Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
First military Governor of the old Rivers State and Amayanabo of Twon-Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, has said elder statesmen in the Niger Delta are working to calm militants in the region.
He said the renewed militancy in the region was giving fillip by the rising unemployment among the youths and even the failure of government to cater for pensioners.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday in Port Harcourt at the sidelines of the Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD) Forum organised by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Diete-Spiff said the increased militancy was a reaction to the economic and social realities of the region.
“The youths are not employed; the older ones, even the pensioners, are not getting their pension because the earnings have dropped seriously. Everybody is agitated and what you see is a spill over. When a kettle or a pot boils, it spills over and so the Niger Delta is boiling. We are trying to get to the root of it and see how we can control and make everybody cool down,” he said.
The monarch noted the limitations of government to stem the tide of agitations in the region.
“The state governments are cash-strapped because the oil is not flowing and if it goes beyond this, the federal government will also be cash-strapped too. We must attend to these little problem,” he said.
He however expressed optimism that militancy in the region would soon be controlled.
According to him, “It is quite simple; just some little things. In the Niger Delta, we say ‘kalaye opuye, opuye kalaye’, meaning one little step will be a mighty stride.”
On the Niger Delta of his dream, Diete-Spiff said: “The Niger Delta has been the treasure base of the nation and we would have liked to see everybody in the region living like those in Dubai or Kuwait. They should be looking prosperous, confident and completely relaxed and cool. That is the Niger Delta I will like to see; where our children go to school: we also have top-level hospitals and other institutions and everybody is coming down here because they know this is the beehive-the land flowing with milk and honey-with the people themselves being given their rightful position.
“I will like to see a Niger Delta where everybody has peace of mind and equanimity and do not feel at all that they are being short-changed. I will like to see a Niger Delta where there is enough employment and where it is a joyful and happy family, proudly contributing and leading the nation’s economy.”