WARRI—SOME stakeholders in Delta, Bayelsa and Cross River states rose, yesterday, in support of the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, saying that he was eminently qualified to summon a meeting of Niger Deltans to discuss any issue, as he did, last Saturday, while others still maintained that Amaechi has no such powers.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, representing Delta Central senatorial district in the Senate, said: “Absolutely, he (Amaechi) has my support and commendation. But for a prior commitment that took almost all the southern senators to Enugu on the same date, we would have attended the meeting.
“Amaechi knows the terrain and the challenges we face as a region having served as a governor and currently a ‘key man’ in this administration. Rather than vilify him, he should be commended and encouraged.”
Former Secretary-General of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Chief Frank Kokori, who attended the meeting, said: “We went for the meeting which had all the major actors in the Niger Delta present, apart from Chief Clark and some persons from his inner caucus.
“We talked of different things and different committees were set up with one of such committees to meet with the Clark group. The meeting was a mixture of those in Clark’s group and others, who were not and was a combination of both PDP and APC leaders,” he said.
Former House of Representatives member, Solomon Edoja, said: “The Minister of Transportation is most qualified to call a meeting to resolve the issue of marginalization of the Niger Delta. He has a thorough understanding of all the issues and he is in a position drive the process and ensure full implementation of decisions as a member of the Federal Executive Council.”
Renowned political leader in Akwa Ibom State, Senator Anietie Okon, said: “The President should stop being a fugitive from the realities of the region and also stop living in denial. I do not blame him because they have created a wrap of falsehood in which he has been cocooned.”
Okon added that what happened last Saturday could only worsen the situation rather than solving the problem in the region.
Amaechi has no mandate
Niger Delta activist, Tony Uranta, said: “Amaechi has the right to convene any gathering that he so wills, just as does any other citizen of Nigeria. However, it is indisputably clear that the armed elements in the region have unanimously declared that the only body that may interface on their behalf with the Federal Government of Nigeria is the Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan-Niger Delta Forum upon whose urging they declared the now shaky unilateral ceasefire that has lasted over six weeks.
“This is a season that calls for sincerity of purpose and commitment to a peaceful and holistic restoration of sustainable peace and restoration of the region’s peace and security.”
National Leader, Urhobo Nationality Council, UNC, Olorogun Jaro Egbo, who also graced the Amaechi meeting, said: “Yes, of course, he is the leading light in the Buhari administration. It was well attended and the deliberations were very frank. We all agreed that the meeting should hold every other month, so the next meeting will come up in November. It was a bi-partisan approach to the Niger Delta question.”
Meeting convened to create confusion —Omare
Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, said the Amaechi conference was more of a problem than solution to the Niger Delta crisis. Its spokesperson, Mr. Eric Omare, said: “The meeting called by Amaechi, to the best of my knowledge, was a meeting of party chieftains from the Niger Delta, hence he has a right to do so. It was not a stakeholders’ meeting to resolve the Niger Delta crisis.
The whole essence of the meeting, in my view, was to deliberately muddle up the peace process and make it impossible for the Federal Government to resolve the issues. The Amaechi meeting is more of a problem to the Niger Delta peace process than a solution.
“Majority of those that gathered in that meeting are the ones frustrating efforts at resolving the problem, but the point must be made that if Amaechi is genuinely committed to resolving the problem, he is in the most strategic position to do so, because of his relationship with the President and influence in the present Federal Government. But he seems to be more interested in politics than taking a bipartisan position,” he said.
No ethical platform
Member, Delta State House of Assembly, Timi Tonye, who spoke in a similar vein, said: “With utmost respect, I think Amechi has lost the issues at stake in the Niger Delta region. He struggles daily to be seen as a leader of the Niger Delta people simply for political expediency.”
New face of S-South leadership
However, former APC governorship aspirant in Delta State, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, said: “Amaechi’s metamorphosis to an emerging leader in the region is by popular acclamation. Though, no one is appointed leader of the Niger Delta, as leadership is earned. Amaechi is the new face of the emerging leadership in tackling the challenging issues of the Niger Delta. His emerging leadership of the South-South is by popular acclamation.”
Convener, South- South Awakening Group, Joe Ambakederemo, told one of our reporters: “Amaechi is more than qualified to speak for region. He is a man who was a Speaker for eight years and two- time governor of a strategic state in the region and now a minister. These are issues some of us are prepared to defend. This is the time we are all supposed to come together on one page and solve the problem of the region once and for all, instead of presenting the position of a disjointed people.”