Accessibility links

Breaking News

Niger Delta Leader Calls for Truce After Presidential Vote


A prominent community leader in the Niger Delta is calling for the cessation of violence in the region, to allow the new administration to address the region's long-standing grievances. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa reports from Abuja.

A respected leader of the Niger Delta, Chief Edwin Clark, reckons the recent presidential election provides an opportunity for peace in a region troubled by militancy.

Clark, who describes himself as father of the region, says he is leading the campaign to stop the violence, to allow the new administration time to respond to the critical needs of the area.

"My appeal to my people is that they should give peace a chance, now that a new administration is coming up at the center. They should give them a chance to perform," said Clark. "So, there should be a truce in the whole of the delta, that is my appeal. The oil companies, the investors should not lose hope. They should be ready to resume their normal operations if the new administration at the center is established."

The running mate of president-elect Umaru Yar'Adua, Goodluck Jonathan is the governor of Bayelsa state in the delta who represents a major hope for millions in the region.

Analysts say his emergence as the number-two man could calm discontent over the delta's so-called political marginalization.

Delta inhabitants are some of Nigeria's most impoverished people, despite the region generating $40 billion in oil revenues for the government last year and hundreds of billions during the past 50 years.

An increasing number of armed groups have attacked oil facilities and kidnapped foreign workers, forcing a drop in production of about 600,000 barrels of crude per day.

The run-up to the just-concluded general election was marred by an unprecedented number of kidnappings and attacks by militants. But the violence has subsided considerably in the past few days.

The presidential poll had been characterized as a showcase election marking the first civilian-to-civilian handover of power since independence in 1960, but has been called "flawed" by international election monitors.