Thursday, August 25, 2016 5:15 pm
Traditional rulers from Niger Delta Coastal States on Thursday gave six conditions which they said the Federal Government must meet to achieve and sustain peace in the region.
Chief Williston Okirika, Bolowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom, read out the conditions on behalf of the traditional rulers when they visited the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe kachikwu.
” We wish to state here that as a matter of urgency, the Federal Government should appoint or constitute a Federal Government Dialogue Team.
” Release of 10 innocent school children arrested by the Nigerian Army on May 28th in Oporoza and others in detention on trumped up charges.
” Return of the Golden Sword, being the symbol of authority of the Gbaramato traditional institution,” he said.
Other conditions he said, included return of the three traditional council speed boats in custody of the Nigerian army.
He added there must be cessation of hostilities perpetrated by the military in the Niger Delta Region.
” Equally important, the Federal Government should make a categorical statement about the opening of the Maritime University- Okerenkoko, Delta, for academic activities in 2016 /2017 session,” he said.
He assured that the monarchs would continue to support every effort that would help bring peace and sanity in the region.
Responding, Kachikwu commended the monarchs for the visi
t and said that restoring peace in the region was imperative.
He said the ceasefire announced by the Niger Delta Avengers was a welcome development, adding that every effort must be made to sustain it.
He said that it was unfortunate that after the announcement, a report indicated that a pipeline in Nembe community was vandalized and the country lost about 150 barrels of oil and a high quantity of gas.
” This inability to stay steadfast creates military intervention because government cannot sit down and watch production go down.
” The president has shown a lot of patience and he believed that engaging the communities is the best model.
” You should continue to reach out to others to ensure total ceasefire because as production goes down, it affects the ability of states to tackle their financial burdens,” he said.
Kachikwu said that Federal Government had spent about 40 billion dollars in rehabilitating the region in the last 10 years.
He said that there was the need for funds budgeted for the region to be applied in the proper way to ensure development.
He urged the people and royal fathers to ensure that monies were channeled in the proper way for the region.
He said that government was ready to always support a positive course for the region as it had lost 50 per cent of its revenue to drop in oil price, with attacks by militants worsening the situation.
Presently, he said production has reduced from 1.6 million barrel per day to 1.4 million which translates to about 60 per cent reduction in revenue generation.
” The people that pay the biggest price for militancy are the people of Niger Delta, time has come to engage in solid dialogue and everybody has a role to play.
“ Ceasefire must stay to enable the military stop interference, we must find positive way to solve the problem of the region,” he said.