Ijaw Youths Congress (IYC) Thursday told the federal government that no amount of dialogue will end intermittent insurgency and youth restiveness in the oil-rich region if the critical questions of equity and development were not sorted out.
President of the IYC, Udengs Eradiri, who stated this during this year’s annual Major Isaac Adaka Boro anniversary, held in Effunrun, Delta state, also said the first step to get any form of dialogue with the people of the Niger Delta was the opening of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State.
Lead speaker at the event, Tony Uranta, also charged the federal government not to terminate the amnesty programme, initiated by the previous administration yet as doing so would only be worsening the restiveness in the region.
In his speech at the event, Eradiri said the only reason there was anything like the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the insurgent group claiming responsibility for the recent upsurge of insurgency in the region, was because the same issues that Adaka Boro fought against in his days are still very much around in today’s Nigeria.
“The same issues for which Adaka Boro and Ken Sarowiwa were killed are the same issues the Avengers are raising. There are no Avengers anywhere. Settle these issues and the avengers would fizzle away.”
“People have started discussing. There was a meeting in Abuja Wednesday but I told them that such meeting would not work. If they want us to talk, they must first open the Maritime University and start admitting students, then we would now sit and talk,” Eradiri said.
Meanwhile, the lead speaker at the event, Uranta, opined that time was not ripe for the federal government to terminate the amnesty programme, noting that doing so would only be helping in building an army of discontent youth in the region.
“Government must reassure the people of the Niger Delta that it is not yet ready to terminate the Amnesty Programme as there are still a lot of people yet to go for training.
“If you don’t engage these people, you are building up an army of discontent and the government must restructure Nigeria to a true federalism.”
On her part, co-speaker and rights activist, Annkio Briggs, while condemning the federal government for the way and manner it is handling the agitations of the region, said “What the people of the Niger Delta region are asking for is self determination.
“This is different from self succession. We want to own our resources and states should be allowed to explore their own resources while paying tax to the federal government,” she said.