Prominent Niger Delta environmental and human rights activist, Annkio Briggs, has berated the Niger Delta Avengers for attacking oil and gas installations in the region, saying the militants are not Nigerians.
Ms. Briggs, who spoke on Sunday at the 17th Annual Convention of the Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, which held at the Nike Lake Resort in Enugu with the theme ‘Nigeria, Still in Pursuit of True Fiscal Federalism, said the Avengers are from Somalia.
The founder of Non-Governmental Organization, Agape Birthrights and spokesperson of the Ijaw Republican Assembly, made the claim against the backdrop of recent attacks on oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta by the Avengers.
The attacks, which had adversely affected Nigeria’s crude oil production, have also resulted in most parts of the country plunged into prolonged darkness as a result of the destruction of pipelines supplying gas to power stations.
She also condemned the recent murder by an irate mob of a Christian trader, Bridget Agbamihe, in Kano for alleged blasphemy as well as herdsmen attacks in Nimbo Community, Enugu State and other parts of the country.
Also speaking at the event, Alex Ekwueme, Second Republic Vice-President, and a former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana called for true federalism and devolution of powers to the states.
They said that restructuring and resource control by regions was a panacea to end acts of uprising across the country.
The former vice-president, who chaired the event, said that the British colonialists had earlier divided the country to enable each region control and manage its resources without interference.
“The British colonial masters divided the country in such a way that every region will operate within its constitution”, he said.
The guest speaker and former Information Minister, Jerry Gana, said that the key solution to Nigeria’s problem was through true federalism and devolution of powers to states.
“True fiscal federalism is the only form of association that will allow peace and stability in the country and each region should be allowed to manage its resources the way they want it”, Mr. Gana said.
He noted that the formula for allocating revenue made the Federal Government to get richer while the states operated like beggars.
“States should be allowed to manage its resources to enable them govern their people the way they want and allocate some percentage to the Federal Government.
“Government should not be far from the people and the federating unit should be made strong to meet the needs of the people”, he said.
Mr. Gana recommended continuous dialogue and the implementation of the resolutions of national confab by the government as the only means the recent agitation and other national demand could be handled.
A prominent Yoruba leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who was also guest speaker, said that the various acts of political instability in the country were because the constitution under which the country was governed was not good for heterogeneous country like Nigeria.
“To put a stop at the various uprising in the country such as Niger Delta Avengers, MASSOB, IPOB etc, our constitution needs to be changed to allow for restructuring of the country under true federalism”.
Earlier, the founder of IYM, Elliot Uko, said that the event was to honour prominent Nigerians who had contributed to the growth and development of the country.
He said Igbo youth were committed to building a stronger Nigeria and to reduce the tension in the region, adding that true federalism would help the country to grow and prosper.
The highlight of the event was presentation of awards to Messrs. Gana, Adebayo, detained IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, former Anambra Governor, Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Ms. Briggs.
The event was also attended by Ex-Governor Peter Obi and students from tertiary institutions in the South-East.