By Jimitota Onoyume
WARRI—Niger Deltans have been urged to shun violence and continue to explore dialogue as the most dependable social instrument to redress challenges of underdevelopment in the region.
Speaking at a session of Niger Delta Dialogue, Executive Director of Academic Associates Peace Works and facilitator of the dialogue, Dr Judith Asuni, said the region should not stop talking, stressing that stakeholders should continue to dialogue until the myriad of underdevelopment issues in the region were redressed by the government.
She recalled that Niger Delta Dialogue which started in 2016 with attendees from the circle of ex-militants, traditional rulers, religious leaders and other sectors in the region gave rise to Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, adding that it also made Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who was acting President, to visit the region to interact with the people on the way forward.
Urging youths to shun any temptation to tread the path of violence, Dr Asuni said the region should continue to present its demands on the table.
“The Niger Delta Dialogue started in June 2016. Before then government was not talking on matters of the region and we asked why the government was not talking. We got government leaders and stakeholders to talk. There were 50 stakeholders. We concentrated on the militant groups and traditional rulers. King Alfred Diete Spiff was chairman of the group,” she said.
Former Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo, at the event called on various ethnic groups in the region to as a matter of right demand to see the budgetary provisions for their areas, noted that this was the way development could start coming to the region.
She said the Niger Delta Dialogue had made appreciable impact in the last two years, adding that the region should begin to press for new model of development for the region.
She said the amnesty programme had failed to meet its expectations in the region, hence there was need to redefine the model of development, stressing that this will be possible when stakeholders continue to dialogue.
Others who also spoke were Her Royal Majesty, Obi Martha Dunkwu, Omu Anioma, Delta State, Professor Barineme Fakae and several others. They harped on dialogue as the reliable tool to attract Federal Government attention to the area.