Efforts to restore peace to oil-rich Niger Delta region continued in Effurun on Friday (19/08/16) with the Delta State Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa calling for cessation of any form of hostilities in the region, saying more would be achieved through dialogue and advocacy.
Addressing delegates at a one-day stakeholders’ consultative meeting of Niger Delta Coastal States convened by elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark at the PTI Conference Centre, Effurun, Delta State, Governor Okowa said “there is need to agitate but, it should be agitation based on dialogue and advocacy.”
While commending the convener of the meeting for giving room for the people of the Niger Delta region to talk, Governor Okowa stated that more would be achieved when the people of the region have credible people speaking on their behalf rather than persons who will claim to be speaking for the people whereas they were looking for personal gains.
“Are we ready to be a true voice of the people? Today, we are talking about dialogue but it is important that we have those who can represent us, not the Governors, because, with Governors it will be viewed at as political, and I know that if we have a well selected stakeholders to go to Abuja to speak for us, the President will listen because those people will not be seen as speaking for their pockets,” the Governor said, reiterating, “we should stop all forms of violence, with violence, we are taking actions that are destroying our land, our waters in anger.”
He emphasized, “our traditional rulers and our leaders should let the youths know that they should stop violence, with a firm assurance that the elders will speak for us; we know that fiscal federalism, restructuring of the country are important but, we should look at what we can benefit from President Buhari’s administration as a people.”
The Governor disclosed that plans are on to reopen the Maritime University, and that when the gas revolution project comes on stream, the Escravos sand bar would be dredged.
“We should be peaceful, please let us give peace a chance, we need to create the enabling environment, we need to be ready to accommodate investors because, the gas revolution project will cost in excess of 15 billion dollars and the process of dredging the Escravos bar is part of the bargain,” he stated, disclosing that Chinese investors were already sourcing for funds to finance the project.
Governor Okowa used the occasion to inform Deltans that the Ugborodo community have embraced dialogue as the best form of resolving crisis rather than occupying the premises of Chevron.
Those who spoke at the occasion, including the youths and women, called for the demilitarization of the Niger Delta region, re-opening of the Maritime University, dialogue with President Buhari, restructuring of Nigeria as ways of ensuring enduring peace in the region.