Chief Edwin Clark, an Ijaw elder statesman and leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Coastal States Consultative Forum, has announced that he would not be participating in the forthcoming two-day Niger Delta Summit which is being planned by the federal government and which was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, September 26 and 27, 2016.
According to reports on Vanguard, the declaration came as Chief Clark warned President Buhari against listening to the minister of transport, Rotimi Amaechi who is to facilitate the event.
“Amaechi is one of the problems of the Niger Delta, he is seeing himself as next to the president’ and that the people of Niger Delta were ready to work with President Muhammadu Buhari, but he should not listen to people like Amaechi and others that were allegedly confusing him and telling him untruths about the region,” Chief Edwin Clark said.
According to sources, the snub by the Niger Delta elders and leaders has prompted the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to shift the event to Friday night.
Mr. Donald Wokoma,the secretary of the planning committee of the summit announced the rescheduling of the event in a statement that gave no reason for the suspension.
Rumours had begun circulating, before the postponement of the event that Chief Clark, former senate chief whip, Senator Roland Owie, Barrister Ledum Mitee, former minister of police affairs, Alaowei Boderick Bozimo, air commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd.), Chief Isaac Jemide, Dr. Monday Okonny, Chief Timi Alaibe and Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw would not participate in the summit.
It is reported that the leaders which includes Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Idada Ikpomwen (retd.) Col Paul Ogbebor (retd), Chief Francis Doupola, Prof. Lucky Akaruese, Mr. O’ MacEmakpore, High Chief Johnson Opone, Prof. G.G Darah, Hon. Chief T.K.O. Okorotie, Dr. Effiong Edunam, P.Z. Aginighan and Prince Maikpobi Okareme had prepared position papers.
Also, Chief Douglas Naingba, Chief Simeon Efenudu, Dr. Emmanuel Akpanobong, Mrs. Marie Ebikake, Mr. Tony Uranta, Nella Ewa, SAN and Chief Ogar were also against the summit.
“We reaffirm our collective resolve to only engage the federal government through a credible dialogue process with accredited representatives of the Niger Delta region to proffer long lasting solutions to the protracted Niger Delta insurgency and not a summit of this type,” they said.
They also declared that the summit is being organized to trivialize the factor of serious dialogue between the critical stakeholders, who have the mandate and authority to negotiate with the Federal Government.
“That due to the cessation of hostilities on our national assets by the armed agitators of the Niger Delta, oil production has increased to 1.7mbpd and if the peace process is further deepened, with proper negotiation, the possibility of reaching national oil production targets, is very realistic. “Therefore, this should serve as an impetus to commence the negotiation process, rather than engaging in frivolities and trivialities. We are of the opinion that the Federal Government should not unnecessarily take steps that could lead to a relapse to insurgency by its inaction,” they included.
They also accused the Buhari-led government of deliberately feigning ignorance of the authentic and influential leaders in the region.
“The same Federal Government that feigns ignorance of whom to interface with is seen actively orchestrating false flag operations and sponsoring diverse bodies with the intent of dividing the Region’s already unified fronts and justifying a continuation of the balkanization of the Region to facilitate uncontrolled access to its resources,” the group said.
Nevertheless, the leaders announced that Niger Deltans who were invited to the summit were free to attend, however, their attendance would not be representing Pan-Niger Delta States Stakeholders Forum.
“The indigenes of the Niger Delta who are invited to the said Summit are free to exercise their democratic rights to association. However, such attendees, do not represent the Pan-Niger Delta States Stakeholders’ Forum and are not authorized or mandated to speak or represent same.”