In response to a statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari, a former Minister for Environment and Niger Delta Activist, Annkio Briggs has rebuked him quote: “Niger Delta existed before Nigeria, therefore we have our lands to return to.
During the meetings with stakeholders from Niger Delta region at the presidential villa, Buhari had been quoted to have said: Relocate To Other Countries If You Want To, while I[Buhari] will remain and build the broken walls of the nation.
Mrs. Briggs described the president’s comment as offensive and unwarranted.
“It is a pity, sad and offensive for Mr. President to make such statement as at no point during the meeting did the group raise such issue of anyone leaving Nigeria,” she said during a meeting with Pan-Niger Delta Forum in Abuja.
“Niger Delta is an oil rich region and we have existed before Nigeria, as such we have a place to go.”
Speaking further the ex minister said Buhari’s comment shows very clearly the level of insensitivity and mindset of the government towards the people of the Niger Delta.
“The government should know that we had Ijaw land just as other ethnicities like Itsekiri, Urhobo and others have their lands before the existence of the Nigeria state.
“When the Lamido Adamawa, Alhaji Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha told his fellow delegates during the 2014 National Conference under President Goodluck Jonathan that him and his people are prepared to secede from Nigeria to Cameroon if the country disintegrates, President Jonathan did not make counter remarks against them.
“So how can anyone tell us to leave? We existed before Nigeria, hence they should know that I have Ijaw land to go to if I choose to,” Briggs said.
Mrs Briggs is the founder and executive director of non-governmental organization Agape Birthrights. She is a strong advocate of the environmental, economic, and political benefits of the Ijaw nation and other ethnic minorities of the Southern Nigeria and other marginalized and subjugated minority groups in Nigeria.