Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has faulted the attempts to equate Niger Delta militants with Northern bandits, describing it as not only criminal, but also unconscionable.
Clark stated this in a reaction to the ongoing peace efforts by Kaduna-based Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi.
Briefing journalists in Abuja yesterday, the former Minister of Information while commending Gumi, however, said comparing the Niger Delta militants “who are exposed to all kinds of illnesses and deprivations, as a result of oil exploration, to murderous, bloodthirsty villains, who have taken up arms against the state, using different names, such as Boko Haram, bandits, killer herdsmen, kidnappers is very inhuman.”
The leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) stated that Gumi and his cohorts, including the Fulani, seem to be ignorant and envious of the Amnesty granted the Niger Delta militants by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, in August 2009, and which was opened for embracing until October 4, 2009, by the then Niger Delta agitators.
Clark said: ”Sheik Gumi’s action, together with those who went with him, to embark on that venture sameness, is commendable. I recall undertaking similar efforts, after a government delegation, led by Maj. Gen. Godwin Abbe went to Oporoza in Gbaramatu, Escravos River to plead with Tompolo to accept the terms of the amnesty.”
Clark argued that the grievances of the Niger Delta youths were and still are, against the government, as against the exploiting oil companies, which have remained adamant by refusing to develop their areas of operation, but have continued to fly their people from Lagos to perform their job at the rigs in the creek, and flown back to Lagos at the end of each working day.
According to him, some Nigerians who live outside the Niger Delta, who are not affected by the pollution in the Niger Delta, but whose lifestyle is supported and sustained by the resources of the Niger Delta behave like the imperialists, who live by the proceeds of the colonised.
“Unfortunately, such wealthy Nigerians, particularly from the North, rather than using these proceeds for the good of all by developing their region, they use it for and on themselves, for their selfish purposes – hence the emergence of Almajiris, Boko Haram and AK-47 herdsmen,” he said.
He, therefore, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to restore peace and trust to the country, adding that it is rather unfortunate to see the Northern governors being in a confused state, making contradictory propagandist statements without facing the realities.
Clark, however, urged Nigerians to settle religious and political differences and salvage the country.
His words: ”I repeat, they do not need the federal government’s assistance to build grazing reserves for these dangerous species of herdsmen, who we understand are immigrants from other African Countries like Libya as stated by President Muhammadu Buhari, some time ago.”
He accused some governors of leaving their homes seething with fire as a result of insecurity, to ‘escort’ Buhari to his home town in Daura, Katsina State, to revalidate his membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said: ”These same northern governors, who are so authoritative of their position decided to move the dehumanised youths called the Almajiri from their state of residence to their state of origin, particularly at a time when they should have taken proper care of them as a result of the hardship and hunger caused by the COVID-19, at a time when the generous society used to give them money and food freely, but were confined to their houses, due to the lockdown and these young innocent
Nigerian boys wandered on the streets aimlessly, without anyone attending to them.”