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Leader of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has disagreed with the claim by President Muhammedu Buhari that his administration has succeeded in improving the state of security and bringing peace in the North East and South-South from what he inherited.
Clark who is also the Chairman, Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, in an open letter to President Buhari said rather than improve, security under the present administration was in a state of near collapse.
Clark also faulted the claim by President Buhari that he was the architect of the peace witnessed in the Niger Delta, saying the credit righly belongs to former President Godluck Jonthan.
“Your Excellency (President Buhari) was specifically quoted to have said that your government has succeeded in improving upon peace in the North East and South-South, from what you inherited. Your Excellency, I beg to, somewhat, disagree with you on the general state of insecurity in the country, which is presently, in a state of near collapse. Of more concern to me is your claims with respect to the Niger Delta or the South-South zone.
“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, before your government came on board, insecurity which had reduced substantially during the tenure of your predecessor, resumed in 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 also accused the president of abandoning the Niger Delta in terms of infrastructure development even as he decried the use of stolen funds recovered from politicians from the region for projects in other parts of the country. He also warned against ending the amnesty programme for repentant militants.
“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 program 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.
“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 solve 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,” he said.
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