ByÂ Tony Edike
ENUGUâ€”As the Federal Government initiates programme for the development of the Niger Delta region, following the success of the amnesty programme, the oil producing communities in Akwa-Ibom, Abia and Imo states, who had opted for peaceful agitation rather than arms struggle have demanded their inclusion in the deal.
The three states said it would amount to a great disservice, if they were excluded from the programme, having demonstrated greater loyalty to the nation at a time other areas affected by the devastating effects of crude oil extraction activities took up arms.
The communities under the aegis of the Peace Group in a letter addressed to President Umaru YarAdua at the weekend, insisted that damages resulting from the activities of crude oil extraction in their areas were not exclusive to only the areas that took up arms, addingÂ that their farm lands, water ways and environment were all affected and their people deprived of natural sources of livelihood.
The letter entitled, â€œRe: Consolidation of peace â€“Abia, Akwa-Ibom and Imo States Oil producing host communities, least we forgetâ€ and signed by its Coordinator, Chief Ralph Obioha, reads, â€œthe crux of the agitation in the Niger Delta isÂ principally centered on the lack of adequate compensation for the awesome devastation experienced due to crude oil extracting activities. In search of expression, many have coined various terminologies to put it across, including resource control and fiscal responsibility, federalism etc.
â€œWe congratulate with same vigour the sacrifices of the Niger Delta freedom fighters. It takes two to tango, because if they had rejected the amnesty, the inferno could have consumed all of us. The path they have chosen is eternal; it is indeed a greater victory of their historic struggle. Their demands for a better deal are intended for the living and not for the deadâ€.
â€œThe damages resulting from the activities of crude oil extraction in the host communities are not exclusive to only the areas that have taken up arms to lend violent expression to their agitation. The damages to the host environment are pervasive to all communities that cut across all the crude oil producing states,” the communities added on the letter.