In a joint text that was signed by the monarchs and read at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Abuja by the Bolowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Wellington Okirika, the traditional rulers listed out six items which the Federal Government should do in order to build confidence and stop the destruction of the country’s oil assets by militants in the region.
According to a report by Punch, among the six items, the monarchs demanded;
1. The return of a golden sword taken from Gbaramatu kingdom by Nigerian troops
2. The opening of maritime university
3. The release of 10 youths arrested during a raid on Oporoza community and cessation of hostilities by the military
They added that peace and confidence of the people would return if these demands and others stated below are met by the federal government.
They said, “Having acceded to the call for a ceasefire by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on August 4, 2016, the buck has therefore now been passed to the table of the Federal Government as driven by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources – a representative of the Federal Government.
“For the purposes of building confidence in the system, we wish to state here that as a matter of urgency the Federal Government should appoint/constitute a Federal Government dialogue team; release the 10 innocent schoolchildren arrested by the Nigerian Army on the 28th of May, 2016 in Oporoza and others in detention on trumped up charges.
“Return the Golden Sword, being the symbol of authority in the Gbaramatu traditional institution; return the three traditional council speed boats in custody of the Nigerian Army; cessation of hostilities perpetrated by the military in the Niger Delta region; and equally important, the Federal Government should make a categorical statement about the opening of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State for academic activities in the 2016/2017 session,” the statement read.
Responding to the demands of the traditional rulers, Minister of Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu thanked the monarchs for coming to the headquarters of the NNPC and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources to meet with government officials on how to find a lasting solution to the problems in the Niger Delta region.
The minister said, “The ceasefire announcement by the NDA is very key. But what is more important is that when we say we will have a ceasefire, that ceasefire first and foremost must hold. I was reminded that on Monday, which is a day after the announcement, we had an attack on Nembe Creek and we lost another 150,000 barrels and some gas in the Agip facilities.
“So, there are still some splinter elements who despite the ceasefire, continued to attack the efficacy of that ceasefire. And it is the inability to stay steadfast on what had been resolved that usually brings in what you call the military intervention, because the reality is that no matter what we say, there is a limit to which the Federal Government will sit back and just see its assets being attacked while oil production continues to go down.”