The leadership of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has concluded plans to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari over the rising wave of militancy in the Niger Delta and the agitations by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), it was gathered at the weekend.
The 28-member Union, with a population of over 500 million people, and a quarter of the global wealth, is one of the most powerful organisations in the world.
The AUTHORITY gathered that, worried by the deteriorating security situation in the Niger Delta and the Southeast, leaders of the European Union spent the past weeks meeting with opinion leaders from the zones to help their understanding of how best to handle the situation.
Sources close to the meetings told The AUTHORITY that the EU leaders hosted the opinion leaders from the zones to several meetings in Abuja. At one of the meetings, said the source, one speaker from the Niger Delta pointedly accused the EU of fanning the embers of the crises in the zones, and advised the Union to stop “playing the ostrich in Nigeria.”
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An official of the Union who did not want to be mentioned told The AUTHORITY that it was wrong to accuse the EU, which he said between 2009 and 2013, granted over €700m aid to Nigeria, of bad faith.
“It is most unfortunate that an organisation which committed over €200m to youth development, including reintegrating ex-militants in the same Niger Delta, is accused of bad faith.
The EU is committed to developing, not only Nigeria, but the whole of Africa. “Between 2009 and 2013, EU aid to Nigeria most of it from the 10th European Development Fund totalled about €700m. Some €200m was allocated to the consolidation of peace and stability, tackling poverty and creating job opportunities for young people (ex-militants) in the Niger Delta.
“The highpoints of the EU 2009-2013 Country Strategy are peace and security, governance and human rights, and trade and regional integration. The basis for political, trade and development cooperation relations between the EU and Nigeria is the 2000 Cotonou Agreement otherwise called the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, which covers 79 developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
“Aside from the fact that Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, it is the biggest economy on the continent and a regional power. Besides, it is a very important trading partner with the EU. This is why we want to meet with Pres¬ident Buhari and share some of our thoughts on happenings in the Niger Delta and South East with him,” said the official.
Meanwhile, IPOB on Sunday drummed support for the militant group responsible for crippling Nigeria’s oil production, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), as its “kith and kin.”
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IPOB made its position known in a statement endorsed by its spokespersons Emma Mmezu and Dr. Chukwuemeka Iroanya.“The Indigenous People of Biafra under the leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu hereby state that we support our kith and kin, the Niger Delta Avengers, who are fighting for the freedom of our people from the enslaving Nigerian Government.
“We want to place it on record that IPOB has no connection with some groups who are claiming on the pages of Nigerian newspapers that they do not support our fellow freedom fighters the NDA,” IPOB said in the statement.
IPOB said the Niger Delta Avengers were not fighting for resource control and a restoration of the amnesty programme, rather, the group was fighting for Biafra.
“The NDA have consistently stated that the release of IPOB leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is a precondition for any discussion with Nigeria,” it said.
“Unfortunately, the Nigerian government has swept this demand under the carpet while magnifying the notion of am¬nesty payments and resource control as reasons for the NDA’s actions.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the NDA is fighting for the freedom of the people of Biafra and not for amnesty payment or for resource control as some commentators would like to believe.”
According to IPOB, if the secession plan is successful, resources will be controlled by the owners of the land where those resources are located.