ABUJA —AHEAD of the proposed meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the Niger Delta on the platform of
Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PNDEF, led by former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, to find a lasting solution to the renewed militancy in the region, government of United States of America, USA, yesterday, gave insight into its expectations from the meeting.
Speaking in Abuja during a visit to Chief Clark at his Asokoro residence, the US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Homeland Rights, Dr. Sarah Sewall, who said the US would ask the Nigerian government to engage in genuine dialogue, insisted that things had not really changed in the region.
From the left, the Amayanabo of Bonny Kingdom, King Alfred Diette Spiff; the US Under Secretary on Civilian Security, Democracy and Homeland Rights, Sarah Sewall; South South Leader, Chief Edwin Clarke and Former Permanent Information Minister, AVM Haruna during a parley between an American delegation and Niger Delta Leaders at the Residence of the South South Leader, Asokoro, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi ADESHIDA
The Under Secretary said as the leaders meet with the President, they should be able to disabuse his mind and those of others against the impression that some individuals were being paid as against the interest of the general people of the zone.
According to her, the zone needed attention and the problems confronting the zone and the country were enormous, stressing that the leaders at the meeting must present a principled position of fairness, justice and equity.
Also speaking, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy, Nigeria, David Young, who explained that Sewall’s visit was a follow up to the visit of US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to Nigeria recently, as well as the meeting of the governors at Washington DC, noted that there was the need for inclusive dialogue as the highest forum to solve the problem in the region.
According to him, the US as a government was committed to peace in the region. Earlier, Chief Clark, who noted that nobody was thinking of people being paid without doing anything, as that was not the priority of the people of the zone, said however, that the position of the region and what would be presented to the President at the meeting would be total provision of infrastructure in the Niger Delta for the general interest of the people.
Noting that the major issue was that the people of the region must be carried along, the elder statesman explained that a long list would not be produced at the meeting, urging the Federal Government to ensure fairness, equity and justice in the treatment of issues relating to everyone in the country.