By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”Ijaw Peoples Assembly in the United Kingdom yesterday said the greatest threat to Nigeriaâ€™s corporate existence were not militants, but the injustice being perpetrated by the political class on the ordinary people of the country.
President of the group, Chief Rowland Ekperi, who spoke to Vanguard from his base in London, expressed reservation about the genuineness of the Federal Governmentâ€™s desire to develop the Niger Delta.
He wondered why government waited for youths in the Niger Delta to resort to armed struggle before admitting the need to develop the region.
The struggle in the Niger Delta, according to the Ijaw activist, is not about resource control, as the Federal Government and its agents would want Nigerians and the rest of the world to believe, but about equity and justice in Nigeria.
His words: â€œThe greatest threat to Nigeriaâ€™s corporate existence are not the militants but the injustice being perpetrated by the political class on the ordinary people of the country.
â€œThe Federal Government says only peace can bring about the much sought after development in the Niger Delta. Many Nigerians have bought that story line. Sadly, some political and opinion leaders in the Niger Delta are also singing the Federal Governmentâ€™s song.
â€œBut Nigerians have not asked what happened to development of the Niger Delta during the more than 50years of undisturbed oil exploration.
â€œWhy should the people of the Niger Delta believe that the Federal Government will now develop the Niger Delta?Â What happened to the N300 billion East-West Road construction monies given to PDPâ€™s Mr. Fix it Ministry of Works during the Obasanjoâ€™s government?
â€œThe Senate President, David Mark, talks about training special military units to invade the creeks of the Niger Delta. The Defence Minister, Major General Godwin Abbey (rtd) boasts of dealing â€œruthlesslyâ€ with militants that fail to accept amnesty. This Major General claims to be part of the political Niger Delta.
â€œThe same Minister further warned MEND that â€œit could not threaten the very existence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, noting that the government is prepared to defend the sovereignty of the country in all its ramificationsâ€.
â€œCourageous talk. Disciplined officers of the Generalâ€™s position in world class military institution see justice as the most critical element in national defence.
â€œThe Defence Ministerâ€™s threats are not new. They are common amongst the â€œpolitical Niger Deltansâ€. They see and hear no evil. But they all ride on the back of Niger Delta to high offices in the land. They and Nigeria fail to see and understand that the greatest threat to our sovereignty is not the militant activities in the Niger Delta.â€
Chief Ekperi warned that â€œNigeria is on the verge of â€œpeasantsâ€™ revolutionâ€. This is the real threat that should concern the Defence Minister. The time bomb is ticking away.â€
On the parlous state of affairs in the Niger Delta, he said, â€œNigerians have been told several stories about the problems of the Niger Delta. We are made to believe that federal government allocations to the Niger Delta states are misappropriated by the leaders of the Niger Delta.
â€œThere is no denying that these leaders are saints. But Nigerians have failed to ask the key question, how the so-called leaders emerged. Nigerians have also failed to ask whether these were the true leaders of the Niger Delta people. “