PORT HARCOURT—SOME Niger Delta leaders opened up, yesterday, on how the conflict between the Pan-Niger Delta Coastal Stakeholders’ Forum steered by Chief Edwin Clark and a new group of leaders also from the region, led by Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, can collaborate in the interest of the region.
Clark & Amaechi Though the new group of leaders, boasting in its rank, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, former Secretary-General of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Chief Frank Ovie Kokori, All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship aspirant in the last election in Delta State, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, and a host of others, at its inaugural meeting, penultimate Saturday, promised to reach out to Chief Clark to forge a harmonious relationship, it was obvious that things were no longer the same.
The group set a time frame of three weeks to meet with Clark to tackle the cause of disagreement, but when Vanguard spoke to Clark, he said nobody from the newfound Amaechi group had contacted him for any meeting. He said: “I am not struggling for leadership with anybody. If they come, I will receive them and tell them my mind. All I am struggling for is for the good of Niger Delta. At my age, God has blessed me with everything I want in this world.
What do I want again? “I have said it repeatedly that I am at the departing lounge waiting for my boarding pass and there is nothing that will please me at this age than to leave behind a harmonious and focused Niger Delta. We are not fighting an Ijaw cause, it is a Niger Delta battle and I am too old to follow young men about.
People like us will only sit at home to give them advice. “I am not the leader of any group, I do not have any group. I only convened a meeting of Niger Delta Coastal states monarchs, leaders and stakeholders forum, which held in Effurun, near Warri, Delta State, on August 19, where the ethnic nationalities came up with a group, Pan-Niger Delta Consultative Forum, which the militants saw and accepted our plea to stop bombing and also gave us mandate to dialogue on their behalf with the Federal Government because the issues are known to us as Niger Delta leaders.
” Another member of the Amaechi group, Chief Kokori, told Vanguard that he was not aware if any date had been fixed for the group’s meeting with the Pan–Niger Delta Consultative Forum steered by Clark. Crux of the matter From our findings, the crux of the matter is leadership.
Members of the Amaechi group contend that even though Clark is unquestionably a Niger Delta leader, the time has come for him to give way to younger elements and the person they think should wear his shoes, because he reportedly has the ears of President Muhammadu Buhari, is Amaechi. One of the opinion leaders in Akwa Ibom, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd.), who spoke to Vanguard on the feud, said: “You see, these things are affecting the life of the people. If we take politics out of it, we will make some headway. We are dealing with human beings who are aggrieved.
And I am sure they know who understands what they are looking for, who has them in mind.” Former national chairman of Traditional Rulers of Oil Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, HRM Charles Ayemi –Botu, from Delta State, said: “Amaechi is simply putting the cart before the horse. It is what should be addressed in the dialogue, which Niger Delta leaders are asking for that they are bringing up now.
“That is not the issue, we all know the problem with the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and that it is not doing much. He is being used. He met with Buhari and told him that he (Amaechi) can handle the Niger Delta problem. Amaechi said Niger Delta should not come with any proposal to Buhari giving any condition for dialogue. That is his position and what he is going about to execute,” he said. Former national chairman of Ijaw National Council, INC, Prof. Kimse Okoko, who spoke cautiously, said: “On Chief Clark and Amaechi, Niger Delta is bigger than any of them.
I do not see Amaechi as a contending force in the Niger Delta at all, neither do I see Chief Clark as a panacea of the problem of the Niger Delta. “When issues arise, the Niger Deltans will sit down to arrive at solutions, solutions not based on any contending individuals that are not regarded as immutable force in the region,” he added. Environmentalist and social activist, Ledum Mitee, said: “What government must strive to do is to know what they want to drive.
I heard that Amaechi is driving a summit and Clark is driving another one. Why are they bringing conflict into the whole thing? It is more important that this issue should be driven from the centre directly. The fear is that people may take it from their own political angle. “My view is that the government must come out to show the clear direction of what they want to do and the very clear channel of communication that they want for the dialogue.” But, APC leader in Delta State, Olorogun O’tega Enerhor, said: “Our group thinks that the militants should stop bombing without precondition.
We think NDDC, PAP and the Ministry of Niger Delta, and state governments should come together to discuss so that we coordinate and not duplicate efforts.” Senator Omo-Agege sounded very protective of Amaechi in a chat with Vanguard, saying: “I think Amaechi should be encouraged. I am not in support of anybody challenging him.
He has the ears of the President and I believe that he can lead the region. “Chief Clark is a father and a leader and there should not be any competition. I believe we should find a solution,” he added. Former NUPENG leader, Chief Kokori, said: “We are people that have been shortchanged for a long time, that was why in the struggle, I was happy that Dokubo-Asari, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo and others came out as nationalist fighters, but they later derailed the struggle.
“But they have played their role. Since the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s time, nothing happened and former President Goodluck Jonathan, I thought that the first agenda would be to have a real federation, decentralized structure sort of. He disappointed us, working with his own concept and I believe with Ijaw leaders.”