PROMINENT elders, leaders and groups in the Niger Delta have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to create a platform to listen to the grievances of the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, the militant group blowing up oil facilities in the region, and impartially deal with their demands to avoid winning the war and losing the battle.
They disagreed with Buhari’s directive to the armed forces to crush the suspected militants and “no negotiation” posture of the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Gabriel Olonisakin, saying the Commander-in-Chief should facilitate a responsive environment to win their confidence and pull them to the dialogue table.
Meanwhile, this view on dialogue with the militants, who have been described in some quarters as criminals, is yet to gain traction with many leaders in the country.
Olonisakin had declared in Lagos, last week: “There are better ways to air their grievances than the way they go about it. The right way is to get necessary permit and protest. If they are violent, we will not take it lightly with them.”
The Niger Delta elders, however, did not see any justification for the self-proclaimed outlaws, whose chief objective is to cripple oil production in the country to zero and, thereafter, declare a Republic of Niger Delta with its sovereign government, currency and flag in October – some four months away.
From First Republic Information Minister and S/South elder, Chief Edwin Clark, to the immediate past Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Brodrick Bozimo, former Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Pastor Power Ziakede Aginighan, Secretary-General of the United Niger Delta Economic Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), Mr. Tony Uranta, Col. Dedis Abel (retd.), Chief of Staff to the Special Adviser to President Buhari on the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Gen Paul Boroh (retd), Dr. Chris Ekiyor and Ann Kio Briggs, these leaders expressed views that could assist in providing a solution to the problems of militancy in the region.
Employ Yar’Adua /Jonathan approach – E. K. Clark
Clark counselled President Buhari to emulate his predecessors, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, and former President Goodluck Jonathan, by dialoguing with the Niger Delta militants whose activities were threatening the peace, stability and possible existence of Nigeria.
According to him, both Yar’Adua and Jonathan brought ex-militants to the negotiation table, which led to positive effect on the nation’s economy.
Clark, who is the chairman, Board of Trustees, Ijaw National Council, told Sunday Vanguard at the weekend: “In my many years of leadership at various levels in this country, I know that any resort to violence and insecurity only leaves a trail of tension, neglect, pain and wanton violence in the areas concerned.
“Even when security forces move in with the intention of restoring law and order, it is innocent villagers, in particular, women, children, and the old who suffer most.
“The Niger Delta is yet to recover from the season of violence which we experienced between 2005 and 2009.
“I, again, make the same call and appeal, today, this time in a more shrill voice! Though the perceptions have not changed on the evolving kaleidoscope of national political administration, I remain firmly convinced that the destruction of our national economic golden goose is not a viable option.”
Dialogue, engagement – Uduaghan
Govt should pay attention – Bozimo
Emergency stakeholders’ summit – Aginighan
Jaw-jaw – Ayemi- Botu
No to violence – Uranta
Fiscal federalism is way out – Briggs
Confidence, dialogue – Ekiyor
Military action not the only option- Abel
Militarization‘ll worsen matters- Azaiye, NDPM, SNDG
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