Niger Delta environmental and rights activist, Ann-Kio Briggs, said yesterday that agitation and violence in the region may not end unless the Federal Government practise true federalism.
Briggs stated this when she spoke on the solution to insecurity in the Niger Delta region on Channels TV Programme, ‘Sunrise Daily,’ and added that it was injustice that created room for the hostility and violent activities being embarked on by the militants.
This was barely 24 hours after the Federal Government declared a two-week military ceasefire to create a window for dialogue with the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), while asking military deployment on the waterways in the Niger Delta to continue to man installations in the oil-rich region.
Briggs, spokesperson for Ijaw Republican Assembly (IRA) and United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS) said: “We must sit down and find a way round how Niger Delta people will have opportunity to utilise what is in their region to develop themselves and secure their future.
“The people are complaining that all the oil wells in the Niger Delta, apart from the ones that the federal government is sharing with oil companies, about 90 percent or more of those oil wells, for the past 20 to 30 years, have been in the custody of Nigerians who are not from the Niger Delta region.
“They are not contributing to the development of the communities where they are making these billions of dollars.
“If anybody is saying we are not being reasonable by feeling offended by such captivation, we are moving round in circles because people will continue to feel aggrieved,
“It doesn’t matter where the resource is. If it is handled and shared and denied the people the way it is being denied the Niger-Delta people, it doesn’t matter where in Nigeria, those people will actually agitate. And, these are the core reasons and we must address the core reasons.”
Briggs also declared support for dialogue with militant groups but pointed out that such talks would only yield good result if government would consider the militants’ agitation.
“We must remind ourselves in Nigeria that politics is not a war. It is not a situation of winners take all. It is not a situation where a group of people will determine that they have conquered certain group of people in Nigeria. We are equal partners in the Nigeria project,” she said.