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No Substitute For Restructuring – N’Delta Elders

The Coordinator, Niger Delta Elders and Leaders Forum, and a member of the Niger Delta Dialogue Group, Chief Mike Loyibo, has stated that for Nigerians to coexist peacefully, the country must be restructured.

Loyibo, who spoke in an interview on Wednesday, urged the Federal Government to give all the ethnic nationalities the opportunity to discuss the purpose and essence of their existence.

He said, “There is no substitute for restructuring of this country. Therefore, the government at the centre should give all the ethnic nationalities the opportunity to discuss the purpose of our existence.

“I believe in restructuring and the people I represent believe in restructuring and we are pushing for it and very soon we will get there.”

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Loyibo, who advocated fiscal federalism, said the Niger Delta people needed a total control of their resources. He said anything short of resource control would not be accepted, warning that agitations would not cease until the Federal Government allowed the region to manage its resources.

Loyibo added, “But we are also mindful of the fact that the current Federal Government headed by a corruption-free President Muhammadu Buhari is putting in the best that we have never seen before to address the age-long issues of the Niger Delta.

“What we are simply saying is, give 13 per cent derivation to the host communities directly and allow them to control their resources and pay taxes as was the case with cocoa and groundnut, then there would be peace in the Niger Delta.’’

Meanwhile, some ex-Niger Delta militants, who participated in the Presidential Amnesty Programme, have urged the Federal Government to probe the N541bn reportedly expended on the programme in the past eight years.

The ex-militants, under the auspices of Transparency and Accountability Movement in the Niger Delta, alleged on Tuesday that in spite of the funds, the scheme failed to fulfil its promises to beneficiaries.

The group, in a statement by its Chairman, Lord Onipa, and its Secretary, Nengi Buna, demanded a publication of the list of camps that accommodated the reported 30,000 beneficiaries.

They alleged that after eight years, PAP had not kept its promises of providing accommodation, vehicles, and money for ex-militants.

“We also frown on the situation whereby stipends/allowances to delegates in schools and other training programmes are owed in arrears from five to six months. These are the issues worrying us as a group in the region.

“The amnesty programme has failed to fulfil appreciable percentage of the agreed conditions to ex-agitators. We wish to put it on record that the Federal Government has so far spent over N541bn on the programme in the past eight years.

“We wonder whether the amnesty programme is properly coordinated or it is designed to benefit some Federal Government agencies or Nigerian security agencies and those at the helm of affairs of the programme,” they stated.

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They warned, “If these legitimate demands do not receive any positive response it may lead to a breakdown of law and order in the region.”

PUNCH.

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