An elder statesman and leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, has pleaded with the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, to be patient with the ongoing dialogue between the Federal Government and the region’s leaders towards addressing the plight of the people.
Clark also told the group that PANDEF, under whose auspices they had been engaging the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, had not betrayed the trust of the militants, urging them to cease fire until positive results were reached with the government.
The Ijaw leader spoke on Friday during a meeting with some leaders of PANDEF, where he condemned the slow pace of the development of the Niger Delta and other issues pertaining to the region.
While also condemning the silence of the governors and members of the National Assembly from the region to the directive that international oil companies should relocate their operational headquarters to the region by the then Acting President and now Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, he said such attitude has further given the IOCs impetus not to relocate.
According to him, everyone in the region is as angry as the militants, but that the people of the region are the ones who suffer from the result of the destruction of oil facilities, which is environmental pollution.
Clark stated, “What these boys are doing in the creeks and the upland affects us. The only difference is that we cannot go and join them to destroy national assets. If anyone of you believes that the Niger Delta Avengers are not aggrieved, you are making a mistake. We are all aggrieved.
“We are not second-class citizens to anybody. But destroying national assets is not the answer because of the pollution that will come out of it will end up destroying the environment and affecting the country’s revenue.
“We are appealing to them again that we have not betrayed them. We have not let them down. We have also not deceived them. They should listen to us as their elders to push on. Wherever oil is found all over the world, the people in the area are catered for, but the reverse is the case in Nigeria.”
He noted that if the equivalent of the huge amount spent by the Federal Government on operatives of the Joint Task Force was spent for the development of the region, the insecurity in the region would have improved.