PORT HARCOURTâ€”FEDERAL Government has again been urged not to see the amnesty it granted militants in the Niger Delta as the solution to the challenges of underdevelopment and poverty in the area.
Rising from a meeting, Ijaw National Congress (INC) said in a statement that government should also take practical steps to right the wrongs in the region.
The statementÂ signed by Victor Borubo, publicity secretary of the body, called for restructuring of the polity along the lines of true federalism and also cautioned against treating militants in the region as common criminals.
The INC noted that the failures of successive administrations in the country to resolve the problems in the region gave birth to the conflicts in the region.
â€œLong years of political and social neglect, insensitivity on the part of various governments and the Nigerian state brought us as a nation to this state. An issue that would easily have been resolved by dialogue and peaceful means was made to degenerate into this unwholesome situation.
â€œThe Ijaw National Congress believes that there are two sides to this story. There were blatant injustice meted to the people of Ijawland and the Niger Delta, which led to these effects. The president has not told us as a nation what he intends to do about the causes and attendant consequences”.
â€œThe INC and indeed the Ijaws are at a loss to understand how these issues will be properly treated,Â considering the â€œMarshallâ€ manner/speed the amnesty was offered and is being implemented without due consultation with genuine stakeholders..
â€œThe INC, therefore, views and accepts this amnesty as only the beginning of a process, a process that must lead to the healings of the just agitations of the long neglected people of Ijaw land and indeed the Niger Delta. The process is that of a concurrent dialogue with the authentic socio- cultural leaders of Ijaw people, in this wise the INC.
â€œThe INC also demands that there should be constitutional and electoral restructuring of Nigeria along the lines of true federalism, the creation of two more homogenous Ijaw States, Toru, – Ibe StateÂ to the West and oil Rivers State to the East.
Furthermore, we demand the creation of more local government areas in Bayelsa State and a MARSHAL type of funding for the interventionist agencies (NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta) set up by the federal government to achieve the rapid infrastructural transformation and development of the region. We also demand a return and reimbursement to the region of the so-called â€œexpired fundsâ€ of the NDDC.