We Don’t Need External Bodies To Resolve Niger Delta Crisis –James | Independent Newspapers Limited
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We Don’t Need External Bodies To Resolve Niger Delta Crisis –James

Posted: Nov 22, 2016 at 10:20 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Pastor Bassey James, a renowned criminologist, security expert and clergy, is the National President, Southern Youths Development Forum. In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUY, he spoke on President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to resolve the Niger Delta crisis among other issues. Excerpts:

The nation is currently facing some challenges in the exploration of crude oil from the Niger Delta as a result of militancy. What is your advice to the government on how to resolve this crisis?

The issue of Niger Delta is one that President Muhammadu Buhari is tackling and I want to thank him for taking into consideration the views of the people by inviting the leaders for talks. I think that is a plus. We must also give him the full cooperation. We are praying for him to succeed, because the success of the Niger Delta is a plus for Nigeria, Nigerians and the President. I urge our people to give him that opportunity to handle the issue the way he wants to handle it. I believe at the end of the day everybody will be satisfied.

Do you think the region’s political leadership is doing enough to help the federal government in resolving the issues without partisan considerations?

Every Niger Delta person wants to see peace. Peace in the region means the peace of the people. Nobody will have a house and wants to see it on fire. That is why we are saying there must be peace. The leaders are doing everything possible to bring peace. They are the fathers of our region. The young people are looking up to the elders.
It is a good thing that this dialogue has started. We believe it will produce something great for the Nigerian people. Also from the point of view of a pastor, we are preaching to people. We are praying daily to see how human beings can live together. The unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. No matter the region, no matter the religion, the political party, we are first and foremost Nigerians. We must promote the unity and love of our people. We must not do things that will see us as enemies of progress. I think the Niger Delta people are peace loving, enterprising and very accommodating. For the fact that a few elements are causing some havoc does not mean that the people of Niger Delta do not believe in the unity of Nigeria. We believe in the unity of this country. We are praying that this unity be sustained. The strength that we have today is due to the size of the country. The bigger we are, the more united we are, the more progressive we will be.

It is believed that the inability of the leaders, especially the governors, to engage the youths, is the cause of the current militancy in the region. Do you think so?

Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion. The Niger Delta issue started long ago. Every government has tried to build a united nation called Nigeria. Our leaders are doing well. I don’t work in government.  I don’t know the workings of government. As a youth and religious leader and a committed Niger Delta person and a young man that wants to see progress in my country, we have been together for so many years and the spirit of independence is what really brought us together. The founding fathers of Nigeria fought for the independence of this country.
Before oil there were other resources. So, we must go back to the drawing board and talk about the development of our people and how we can live together. Once we achieve unity, we have achieved everything. I want to commend our leaders. They are doing well. Rome was not built in a day. There is always room for improvement. Every hand must be on deck to see that there is development. Unfortunately, everything in Nigeria is tied to government and politics. Once you remove politics from development, you will see rapid development. We should not tie everything in Nigeria to politics.

What have you been doing as a leader to assist in re-orienting the people on expectations from government?

Well, I am putting up a conference, the National Youths Impact Conference. The theme is: ‘The role of Youths in Nation Building’. We shall look at the issues of development, entrepreneurship, infrastructure, security and unity. We are using our religious organisations to talk to our people to make them know that the worst you can do for yourself is to destroy what God has given to you. Every destruction in the Niger Delta affects millions of people. The environment, the eco-system, the land is already polluted. If you put the environment under more threat, we will be the first people that will suffer the consequence. We should look for avenues to talk, which is what the Southern Youths Forum has been doing over the years. We have been talking, we have used our little means of communication to preach to the people. I strongly believe that the problem of the Niger Delta can be resolved by the people of Niger Delta. I also believe that the problem can be resolved by Nigerians. We don’t need external bodies to come and deal with our issues. We must honestly discuss our issues and sort it out ourselves.

Looking at the administration of Udom Emmanuel and what his predecessor, Sen. Godswill Akpabio did, where do you see Akwa Ibom State in the next few years?

I want to thank the former governor for some of the things he did. Look at the stadium. it is one of the best in Africa. We are proud that we are from Akwa Ibom State. Government is a continuum. The present governor has also built on the success of the past administration. But he is going beyond that. Today he is called Mr. Infrastructure. Today in Akwa Ibom, we are talking about development of infrastructural. This is unprecedented in the history of this country. The governor is busy working round the clock to build industries and investors are coming to Akwa Ibom State. I assure you that in the next few months, Akwa Ibom will be a major player in the comity of nations. This governor is in a hurry to fast track development. This government is in a hurry to bring peace and deal with the issue of infrastructure and sustaining the issue of free compulsory education. I want to say that we have never had it so good. We are thanking God for what He has done in the last few years in Akwa Ibom State. Akwa Ibom State is the best place today for investors. So, if anybody is looking for a place to invest, looking for a place that is secure, a place that promotes unity, a place you can call your country, your own home, that place is Akwa Ibom State.  I know that the governor’s hands are wide open to receive everybody. He is well focused on receiving investors and building solid infrastructure that will see us among the top states across Africa.