Leader of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, Edwin Clark, has replied President Muhammadu Buhari that there was peace in Niger Delta region before he assumed office.
Clark said this to oppose Buhari’s claims that his regime had fostered peace in the oil-rich region.
The Ijaw national leader in an open letter on Thursday said Buhari’s predecessors are the ones to claim credit for the peace enjoyed in the South-South.
He said insecurity in the region reduced during the tenure of Goodluck Jonathan but resumed at an “alarming rate” after the Buhari administration came to power.
He said, “No doubt, a good amount of peace has come to the Niger Delta in the past few years. However, your claim as having been the main architect that brought the peace does not properly convey what transpired.
“If you will recall, your excellency, before your government came on board, insecurity which had reduced substantially during the tenure of your predecessor, resumed at a very alarming rate.
“The period saw the emergence of a new group, the Niger Delta Avengers, which virtually held your government hostage, oil production went down to as low as about 800,000 barrels per day.
“Your government adopted a military approach to quell the agitations, by deploying the so-called ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ in August 2016, which did not in any way solve the problem.”
He accused Buhari of marginalising the region, abandoning several projects and persecuting leaders from the region, who served under Jonathan’s administration — citing the invasion of his home in September 2018.
He also said the President and Vice President failed to deliver on different promises, including building modular refineries to replace the local refining carried out by youths, relocation of the operational headquarters of the oil companies to the Niger Delta, and the Ogoni clean-up.
He added, “Mr President, may I make it very clear to you that the area is sitting on a keg of gunpowder, and any attempt to scrap the amnesty programme may produce unpleasant consequences to all.
“Our people are very conscious of the developments that your government is carrying out in other areas of the country with monies derived from oil exploration in their area.
“We repeat, our agitation against the use of money looted from our area by the late Gen. Sani Abacha, which was recovered from the United States of America, exclusively for the construction of the so-called mega projects by the Federal Government and the illegal confiscation of 2.4 million pounds from the British Government as loot recovered from the former governor of Delta state, Chief James Ibori, under the flimsy excuse by the attorney-general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, that it was the federal government, which as a nation, negotiated with the British Government, and that it was an agreement between the two governments that the money should be used for federal projects; this is not true.
“Meanwhile, federal roads in the Niger Delta region have mostly collapsed and applying these funds to rehabilitate these collapsed roads, would have gone a long way to solving some of our problems.
“Please Mr President, I respectfully wish to state that your claim of bringing peace to the South-South geo-political zone, is untenable, untrue and without foundation. The deliberate neglect of the South-South, can lead to the explosion of the keg of gunpowder upon which we are sitting in the Niger Delta.
“I strongly advise you to listen and heed to the various open letters I have written to you.”