A prominent female activist from the Niger Delta, Ankio Briggs, on Sunday condemned the Niger Delta Avengers for attacking oil and gas pipelines and installations in the region, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.Ms. Briggs, a close ally of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, said the avengers were from Somalia and not Nigeria.
The avengers have claimed responsibility for recent attacks on oil and power installations in the Niger Delta. The attacks have reduced almost by half Nigeria’s oil production and caused darkness across the country by destroying pipelines that supply gas to power stations.
Ms. Briggs spoke in Enugu at the 17th Annual Convention of the Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, with the theme `Nigeria, still in pursuit of true fiscal federalism’.
She also condemned the recent murder by an irate mob of a woman, Bridget Agbamihe, in Kano for blasphemy as well as herdsmen attacks in Nimbo, 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 Yoruba leader, Ayo Adebanjo, 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 Biafra secessionist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and Ms. Briggs.
The event was also attended by former governors of Anambra, Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Peter Obi, and students from tertiary institutions in the South-East.