The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has denied that community leaders in the restive oil-rich Niger Delta want a peace summit to solve the unrest in the region. This sharply contrasts with a statement released by the office of Nigeria's vice office, which suggested that community elders in Niger Delta have agreed to join peace talks slated for next month but are skeptical about the government's choice of mediator. Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, who is a native of the Niger delta, is charged with organizing the peace talks to end the violence in the region. But MOSOP says there was no need for any more talks since previous talks aimed at resolving the military crisis have not yielded any positive results. Lidum Mitte is the president of MOSOP. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from Port Harcourt, Nigeria's previous administrations lacked the political will to resolve the military crisis in the restive oil-rich Niger Delta.
"There was a meeting yesterday, and my recollection of the meeting was that the vice president's office talks about the proposed Niger delta summit. And speaker after speaker took the view that Gambari was unacceptable as chairman, and that there was no need for any summit. What I heard people say and all of us were almost unanimous, what we require was some process of activities that what ahs been lacking has been the political will to deal with the Niger Delta problem. And another talk shop people did not really have confidence in it," Mitte pointed out.
He said people at the meeting wanted to ascertain what happened to previous negotiations meant to resolving the problems in the Niger Delta.
"I think that the view was quite overwhelming… there have been several reports and conferences in the Niger Delta and some people were of the view that what has happened to those ones?" he asked.
Mitte said people want Nigeria's federal government to exercise some political will to resolving the problems in the restive Niger Delta region.
"I think people felt that clearly what needs to be done was some political will. What I heard people say basically was that yes there is a problem in the Niger Delta, but most of those problems are as a result of the failure by past administrations to come out to take decisive actions in dealing with the problem of underdevelopment of the region. So they called for action, action in that direction," Mitte noted.
He said bringing about development in the region would go a long way in solving the unrest in the Niger Delta.
"Yes, and I think what is required is that there should be a process by which people can identify genuine community grievances and respond to them, and at the same time deal with criminality and respond to them as such," he said.
Mitte reiterated the need for a political will from the federal government to resolve the problems in the region.
"What I think needs to be done is clearly to muster the necessary political will to address the core issue that is underdevelopment and the question of justice," Mitte pointed out.