Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
The immediate President, Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, has blamed the Federal Government’s unseriousness and lack of commitment to address the Niger Delta problems for the renewed threats by the Niger Delta Avengers.
The Niger Delta Avengers recently threatened to resume bombing of oil installations over alleged government’s failure to address the underdevelopment issues in the region.
Eradiri in an interview in Yenagoa on Tuesday faulted the government’s handling of the agitations of the militant group, saying that agitations in the region arose from long years of underdevelopment, neglect, lack of equity, insincerity, among other challenges.
Eradiri said although he did not believe in violent agitation, he supported the agitation by the Avengers, rationalising that agitation was the only language the government understood in this country.
He said to solve the agitations in the region, the government had to show more commitment and seriousness in addressing the causes of agitations.
He also revealed that some external forces were behind the activities of the militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers, claiming that even the Federal Government was aware of the whole scheme.
Eradiri stated, ”The government is not serious. All they want to do is blackmail some persons politically and dent people’s images. I am from this area and I know how it works. All I want is for everything to hear better.
”I believe and I know that all these Avengers’ stuff and threats are external. They are fueled by external forces; people who just want to disrupt things are behind it. Their thinking is that money will come out it through negotiation. Even the government knows about it. It is all about destabilising things and stealing money from system.
”My advice to the youth is that they should continue to agitate. Yes, the only language that they understand is constant agitation. If they did not agitate, the Amnesty budget, you remember I was shouting, it was N20bn down from N56bn.
”When the youth started agitation, it was moved to N35bn and now it is over N50bn, with they (Amnesty operators) now have money to pay school fees and all of that. They were also shouting about the Niger Delta Ministry budget, now the government has increased it. When agitation started, we shouted about the Maritime University, they said they were going to kick off, now I am hearing President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N5bn in the new budget. So, if there is no agitation, will they do all these? So, let the youth agitate. Government, wake up to your responsibility.”
Speaking on the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum, the former IYC boss said PANDEF had lost focus and outlived its usefulness, insisting that the Federal Government did not need the organisation to address the Niger Delta question.
He said the PANDEF led by the foremost Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, though had set the pace and part of the action the government was working on, the group had become an embarrassment and a grace to the people of the region.
Eradiri stated, ”We have lost confidence in PANDEF. We no longer believe in them. I was part of those that brought up the idea when the government said they did not know whom to talk to in the region.
”We agreed to come together as one, hence we established PANDEF. But unfortunately, PANDEF has now lost focus. They are now talking about constitution and leadership. They have women’s wing, youths’ wing etc.
”At every point that we strive to make progress, we are the same persons to scatter it. Everyone is seeking audience. Let those elders go and rest, particularly Clark. We have no elders to report to; they want to be the rulers, owning the power. They seek to overthrow the IYC and all others.They want to be the leaders all because of the selfish gains they want to derive. PANDEF has lost its usefulness. The group is becoming an embarrassment and a disgrace to the Niger Delta. ”