By Appolos Christian
A coalition of former militants in the Niger Delta who now agitate for the development of the region, has asked the federal government and the international oil companies operating within their environs to render succour to them by providing palliatives to cushion the hardship caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Sunday, the group said they have been apparently abandoned by the government and the multinationals, saying they had abandoned them to their fate considering the realities of their situation.
Signed by Mr John Kuku, the leader of Niger Delta Watchdog/Convener, Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, noted with dismay the donations made to Lagos State, saying such was not replicated to the states in the Niger Delta.
“We want to condemn the manner in which the Federal Government treats the Niger Delta people with disdain during this Covid-19 and lockdown period. We notice that out of the total donations over N48 billion made to the federal government by private individuals, and corporate bodies, over 85% of it is from the Niger Delta region, yet the government does not find Niger Delta people worthy enough to receive any form of palliative at this time.
“The Federal Government has so far released N10 billion naira and over 3,600,000 bags of rice to Lagos, Katsina and other Northern states and have also made conditional cash transfers of billions of naira to Northerners while Niger Delta people are being castigated, neglected and marginalized despite the fact that the largest percentage of this money is from the region.
“Furthermore, it surprises us to observe that even the multinational oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta region have also turned deaf ears to the plight of the Niger Delta but rather uses the money made from the region to make donations, buy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), donate ambulances and give palliatives to other states including the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“We feel neglected, rejected and our people abandoned during this period of need, and this clearly shows that Nigeria is not one united nation as always claimed by the government. Therefore, we shall not hesitate to invoke our anger on the government and multinational oil companies operating in our shores very soon; it is very clear now that the government of Nigeria is sectional and has no regards for the wellbeing of the South-South people,” the statement, noted.
The statement went on to condemn the reappointment of the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, calling President Muhammadu Buhari to disband it.
“We also condemn the re-appointment of the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC whose brief period in office was always been marred by illegal and controversial disbursement. We want to warn that the extension of tenure of the interim management board of NDDC by the federal government will spell doom to the Commissions fortunes. The present board of the Commission has not contributed anything to the development of the Niger Delta region.
“We therefore call on the President to sack the Interim Management Board of NDDC with immediate effect and reconstitute the substantive board of NDDC for the interest of peace in the Niger Delta.
“While we acknowledge the power of the President to nominate and appoint suitable individuals from the Niger Delta to manage the affairs of the Commission, we want to reiterate that we shall not be blamed for any crisis that will occur in the region if the present Acting board of NDDC is not dissolved as soon as possible,” it stated.