President Muhammadu Buhari met with leaders of the Pan Niger Delta Forum on November 1, 2016.
The congress held at the State House and was led by Chief Edwin Clark, the Ijaw national leader. It was attended by political leaders, business leaders, traditional rulers, and according to an official, representatives of militant group in the troubled oil-region.
At the meeting in which Buhari said that anybody who has another country to go to is free to go, a 16-point demand was placed before the president.
Below are the demands of the Niger Delta stakeholders.
- The presidential amnesty programme: Out of the five components of the programme, they claim that only the disarmament and demobilisation components are being implemented. Also, they want a genuine exit strategy for the amnesty programme in order to transit recipients into jobs, effectively integrate them and free them of dependency on stipends.
- Law and Justice issues: Resolve pending law and justice issues regarding some aggrieved groups and individuals to check the insecurity situation in the region.
- Government should halt increase of military presence in the Niger Delta as this has resulted in invasion of communities, displacement of persons, harassment and other forms of human rights abuses.
- Government agencies should meet the immediate needs of those displaced due to the upsurge of insecurity in the region.
- The Ogoni clean-up and environmental remediation: Government should speed up the exercise, enforce zero gas flare deadline, tackle devastating effects of coastal erosion and lack of an effective shoreline protection for the coastal communities, commission a region-wide credible assessment of the impacts of crude oil pollution of the environment in the region and undertake to enforce environmental laws.
- Prompt take-off of the Maritime University
- Key regional critical infrastructure: Completion of of East-West road and full implementation of the rail project that is designated to run through the Niger Delta region to Lagos.
- Security surveillance and protection of oil and gas infrastructure. They want pipeline surveillance contracts given to the communities rather than individuals so that communities would see their responsibility over the pipelines as protection of what belongs to them.
- Relocation of Administrative and Operational headquarters of International Oil Companies: The headquarters of most oil companies are not located in the Niger Delta Region. As a result the region is denied all the developmental and associated benefits that would have accrued from their presence.
- Power supply: A power plan that strongly ties power supply in the region to gas supplies, thereby giving all sides a stake in improved stability.
- Economic development and empowerment: Brass LNG and fertiliser plant project, including the Train 7, should be implemented. National gas master plan should be reviewed and updated to integrate the economic interests and industrialization of the region. Create a Niger Delta industrial corridor that would process some portions of the hydrocarbon natural resources, expedite work on the export processing zones, harness the huge rain-fed agricultural potentials of the area through the development of farms estates, fishery development projects and Agro-Allied industrial clusters etc.
- Inclusive participation in oil industry and ownership of oil blocs: Government should enunciate policies and actions that will address the lack of participation as well as imbalance in the ownership of oil and gas assets.
- Restructuring and funding of the NDDC: The restructuring will ensure it refocuses as a true interventionist agency to respond swiftly to the yearnings of the grassroots of the Niger Delta. Communities must be able to have a say in what projects come to them and also want full implementation of the funding provisions of the NDDC Act.
- Strengthening the Niger Delta Ministry: Government should end the era of abysmal funding
- The Bakassi Question. A comprehensive resettlement plan, including development for the host communities and displaced population to reduce the risk of making them into a stateless people.
- Fiscal federalism. The region supports the call for true federalism and urges that the Federal Government should treat the matter expeditiously.