As part of efforts to bring a lasting peace to the Niger Delta region, elders of various ethnic nationalities in the region yesterday resolved to declare Tuesday, August 11, 2009 as a day of non-violent action.
The elders under the aegis of Niger Delta Elders and Leaders Forum (NDELF), in a communiqué issued at the end of its consultative meeting held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, said: "All workers in the Niger Delta region, including workers of the multinational oil and gas companies, should stay at home.
"Failure by any person or persons to comply with this directive will be taken as an unfriendly act towards the people of the Niger Delta."
The communiqué was signed by Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, and two representatives each from the six South-south states of Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa and Edo and 40 other prominent persons from the region.
According to the communiqué, a nine-point resolution was reached by the elders, which instructs the people to embark on a region-wide rally on a date and location to be announced soon in solidarity with the stated position of the governors and National Assembly members from the region.
The NDELF condemned public offices holders from the region who had either been passive or publicly distanced themselves from the position of the South-south governors on issues relating to the region. The elders also said they had withdrawn their support for such public officials.
They commended Ms. Dornu Kogbara for her decision to resign from the Federal Government Oil Reform Committee on account of the marginalization of her people.
The Forum stated that it could not continue to guarantee its support for the amnesty package of the Federal Government in its current form as it does not respond to the fundamental issues underlying the Niger Delta agitations and provide for post amnesty phase.
It called for the implementation of the recommendations of the Niger Delta Technical Committee Report which provides for credible and sustainable peace in the region.
The Forum advocated the immediate withdrawal of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in its current form until it incorporates the relevant aspects of the report of the Technical Committee set up by the Federal Government to look into the Niger Delta issues, especially that relating to the payments of rents to land owners at full economic rates and royalties of not less than two dollars per barrel to the oil-producing communities.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) was asked to immediately rescind its decision to relocate the Petroleum University from Effurun to Kaduna and make provisions for adequate funding for the immediate take-off of the Petroleum University, Effurun.
They also called for the relocation of the headquarters of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and all similar oil and gas-related establishments owned by the Federal Government to the oil-producing states.
The Forum also demanded that Nigeria should be truly governed as a federation and decried the over concentration of power at the centre and called for the practice of true fiscal federalism.
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