From Kelvin Ebiri (Port -Harcourt) and Inem Akpan-Nsoh Uyo
NIGER Delta leaders and elders have said that the era of blatant marginalisation of the region by the Federal Government was over and that they would support any action taken by governors of the area to correct such injustice.
The stance was made known by the leader of the group, Chief Edwin Clark, at a meeting with the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio in Government House Uyo.
According to him, committees upon committees and reports upon reports from the region have been sent to the Federal Government, yet noting is done, noting that if the Ledum Mitee report was implemented, most of the problems of the Niger Delta would be reduced.
"Where are we going from here, reports upon reports have been thrown into the dust bin. If they had been implemented it would have acted as a very good post-amnesty plan.
"During the constitutional conference, we called for 50 per cent derivation; but they walked out on us. The boys in the creeks have accepted amnesty, but what would be their fall back at the end in two months time," he said
According to Clark, the Niger Deltans are not saying we are not one Nigeria, but what we are saying is that true federalism must be practised.
He queried why some people in the country should parade themselves as the owners of Nigeria at the detriment of the South-South region which provides the wealth of the nation.
"Mr. Governor, can you believe that in the just concluded NNPC reorganisation, of the 24 promotions, the Niger Delta was given only three slots while the North got 21 slots.
"Besides, we have on record that the panel that carried out the reorganisation did not have anybody from the Niger Delta or South- South," he said.
He said the leaders and elders of the region were solidly behind the Niger Delta governors' decision on the anti-Federal Government stance on the Niger Delta region.
Clark commended Akpabio for the development strides so far, adding that, if the people of the region were given enough money things would change for the better.
In his response, Akpabio called on the Federal Government not to see the advocacy of the leaders as confrontational, but as a way of bringing to its notice the continuous marginalisation of the area.
According to him, if such injustices are corrected now, the Federal Government would write its name in history book, saying that President Umaru MusaYar'Adua was a good listener and would take decisions that would benefit the region.
Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) said the violent
agitation in the oil producing areas would have been averted if the government and oil companies had taken their social responsibilities seriously.
NDDC's Acting Managing Director, Power Aginighan, stated this yesterday while commissioning a primary healthcare centre at Tere-Ama, Port Harcourt.
Aginighan, however, urged the militant groups to avail themselves of the Federal Government amnesty offer by laying down their arms.
He said the region was in desperate need of peace to enable government and intervention agencies like the commission to embark on the desire
human and physical development of the region.
He appealed to the Rivers State government to take over the management of the healthcare centre and ensure that the purpose for which it was built was not defeated. He also charged the residents of Tere-Ama to protect the health facility.
The Rivers State governor, who was represented by his Special Assistant on NDDC Matters, Mr. Tom George, commended the commission for completing the healthcare that was started and suddenly abandoned.
Tom urged the NDDC to adopt the bottom-up approach in citing projects in communities in the state, stressing that there was the need to always involve the people in the choice of projects because they know better those programmes that will impact positively on their lives.http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/news/article04//indexn2_html?pdate=040809&ptitle=Clark,%20others%20want%20end%20to%20neglect%20of%20N%27Delta