The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has expressed its strong opposition to the call by Chief Edwin Clark, the leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), for the removal of Abia, Imo and Ondo states from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Clark had urged President Bola Tinubu to amend the 2000 Act establishing the NDDC, which he claimed was a political aberration that included non-Niger Delta oil producing states in the nine-member commission.
HURIWA, in a statement issued on Wednesday, described Clark’s call as preposterous, narrow-minded and divisive, saying it was an attempt to deny the Igbo and Yoruba crude oil producing states from enjoying the benefits of their naturally endowed resources.
The statement, signed by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, warned President Tinubu not to encourage any negative amendments that would undermine the unity and development of the Niger Delta region and the country at large.
HURIWA said Clark was being unfair and hypocritical, as he had previously advocated for a broad-based and inclusive approach to addressing the challenges of the Niger Delta.
The statement read in part:
“We are shocked and dismayed by the utterances of Chief Edwin Clark, who is known to be fair minded and broad-based but now in his old age, suddenly he becomes narrow minded, pedestrian and a local champion to an extent that he could utter this balderdash calling for exclusion of Igbo and Yoruba states from NDDC. This is preposterous and unacceptable.
“We wonder why Clark is suddenly changing his tune and betraying his own principles of justice and equity. He was one of the prominent voices that supported the agitation for resource control and fiscal federalism in the Niger Delta. He was also one of the leaders that championed the amnesty programme and the establishment of the NDDC as a vehicle for addressing the developmental needs of the oil producing communities.
“How then can he turn around and advocate for a narrow and selfish agenda that would exclude some states that are also part of the Niger Delta and contribute to the oil wealth of the nation? How can he justify his claim that Abia, Imo and Ondo are not Niger Delta states when they have coastal communities that are affected by oil exploration and exploitation? How can he ignore the fact that these states have been part of the NDDC since its inception and have contributed to its achievements and challenges?
“We urge President Bola Tinubu to disregard Clark’s call and uphold the integrity and inclusiveness of the NDDC. We also urge him to ensure that the NDDC is reformed and repositioned to deliver on its mandate of developing the Niger Delta region in a transparent, accountable and equitable manner.
“We warn Clark and his ilk to desist from making inflammatory and divisive statements that could jeopardize the peace and stability of the Niger Delta region and the country at large. We remind them that Nigeria belongs to all of us and we must work together to protect our common interests and aspirations.” He added.