End to Niger Delta challenges lie with the elite, says Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has declared that the end to the sundry problem of vandalisation of critical infrastructure among others in the Niger Delta region lies within the purview of the elite and other stakeholders in the area.

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He said that militants and all the aggrieved parties in the region must also meet get their problems resolved once and for all.

This came as the presidency yesterday received another list of fresh‎ demands by the Niger Delta Peoples Congress (NDPC).

Recall that President Buhari two weeks ago played host to a cross section of prominent leaders and stakeholders from the Niger Delta region at the presidential villa where they demanded that they be also factored in the allocation and ownership of Crude oil wells in the area.

The leaders specifically outlined a 16 point agenda which they presented to president Buhari geared towards halting militancy activities in the area.

Among those present at the meeting were traditional rulers, Service chiefs, ministers appointed from the region and other prominent elders.

Prof Osinbajo who spoke yesterday when he received a 38-member delegation of the Niger Delta Peoples Congress led by King Alfred Diette Spiff in the presidential Villa, yesterday said the elite from the region must prevail on the militants who are reported to still carrying out bombings on oil facilities.

A source revealed that ‎the Vice president told the aggrieved delegation to first address the issues of ‎continued vandalism which he said affects independent production leading to job losses in the area.

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He absolved International Oil Companies ‎(IOCs) of blame, saying independent producers who are Nigerians suffer most from vandalism and not IOCs.

He also asked leaders of the region oil producing communities to convene an all stakeholders summit where all genuine demands of the people will be tabled.

“The VP told the delegation that they should first address the issue of continued vandalism in the region which he said is the most important thing.

He said the problems in the region have always been there. He said if the elite in all regions of the country decide to end the problems in their regions, the problems will be resolved.

“He also told them that independent producers who are Nigerians are always suffering from vandalism and not IOCs,” the source said.

Speaking to statehouse correspondents at the end of the meeting yesterday, Mike ‎Ekayama Oloyebo said the group was in the villa to represent the aggrieved people, adding “you cannot be finding peace without taking into consideration the problem of the boys in the creeks.”

Oloyebo said the initial 16 points demand presented to the government was not all encompassing.

He said issues of oil derivation and job losses which some of the militants had suffered were not included among the 16 initial demands,hence the militants had instructed them to visit the presidency and make such clarification.

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He said, “This group is the Niger Delta Peoples Congress which was led by King Alfred Diete-Spiff and other leaders.

“About 38 member delegation came again to represent the aggrieved people of the region because you cannot be seeking peace without taking into consideration the problem of the boys in the creeks.

“That is what we have come to inform the presidency and am very sure the aggrieved people were represented in this meeting and we do not have any political affiliation to any other group, we have come genuinely concerned to solve this problem once and for all”.

Asked whether this new group was different from the initial one that met with the President,he said,”the mission is the same,we are trying to find peace whether we are talking about differences or not,we are all one people.

“Our meeting was very positive, we have a president that is very honest with governance and the issues that affect Nigerians and am very sure that what he told us that the issues are very legitimate and we should go back and try to get a roadmap for permanent peace and that is what we are doing.

“So there will be a lot of consultations and interactions after now, there will be what we call a summit, we are going to do a stakeholders summit in the Niger Delta in the next one month, where everybody will be invited to the table to hear what government want to do.

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“Because if we continue to ask government to do things for us, without us stopping the bombing then it does not make sense,”he told reporters.

He explained that the first meeting was somehow distorted, adding that the militants claimed they were misrepresented.

“After the first meeting, there were a lot of distractions and other issues, we were misrepresented, the people said we came to ask for oil bloc for ourselves and they came with specific demands and we have come to inform the presidency this is the demand of the aggrieved people.

“Certain salient issues were left out in that first presentation,issues of derivation which was completely delisted from the list,then we specifically had an item where the boys demanded for their 6000 job loss from the multinationals, the amnesty programme we are asking for a democratization to capture some legitimate beneficiaries who were left out in the first exercise,these were some of the key issues that were left out in the first exercise,” Oloyebo explained.

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