Niger Delta indigenes give terms to avert hostilities

Edwin Kiagbodo Clark


• Govt appeals for patience, hopeful of projects’ execution
• Tompolo denies allegation of double-dealing

Some indigenes of the Niger Delta have given conditions to avert fresh hostilities that will disrupt crude oil production in the region. The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) told the Federal Government that the people of the region are tired of endless dialogues, stressing that only the implementation of past promises would check the current threat by militants to resume hostilities.

The IYC was reacting to a statement by the Presidential Amnesty office after a meeting between the coordinator of the amnesty programme, Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd), and Chief Edwin Clark.

Boroh had promised that the Federal Government would immediately start a dialogue with the Niger Delta people.“What the Niger Delta people want is the implementation of previous promises made by government and not further dialogue, to divert attention and deceive Niger Deltans. We strongly advise Niger Delta leaders not to be deceived by the antics of the Federal Government to dialogue without the implementation of promises. What we need now is action and not talks,” the IYC president, Eric Omare, noted in a statement yesterday.

The group insisted that the Federal Government did not need a dialogue to release funds for takeoff of the Maritime University in Okerenkoko and clean up Ogoni and other parts of the Niger Delta region that have been polluted.A key demand of almost all groups in the oil rich region is the implementation of an executive order by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo directing all the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to relocate their headquarters to the Niger Delta.

The Federal Government, however, has appealed to the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other militant groups in the Niger Delta to sheathe their swords, saying government was making efforts to address all their grievances.

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, gave the indication after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday.
Briefing State House Correspondents in Aso Rock, Usani said: “It is a matter of patience. Some of these things have a procedure. Because it did not happen the way they wanted (does not mean) it will not happen. Everything has a phase of planning and a phase of execution.”He noted that although the threat by the NDA was not part of the discussions, government had started implementing agreements it entered into with the people.

“It is understood that we have to be engaged to be able to sustain the peace that prevailed for a while. We have been appealing to them to just be patient with us. The issues raised genuinely for the benefit of people of the region are being attended to,” he said.

Also, a South West group, Yoruba Liberation Command (YOLICOM), blamed the Federal Government for looming hostilities in the region.In a statement yesterday, the group said government had shown a lack of commitment in dealing with the cries of Nigerians who want a paradigm shift in a political structure that only serves the interest of the north.

Signed by the spokesman for the group, Sanusi Akinleye, the statement reads: “Nigerians, Avengers and other militant groups in the Niger Delta have been waiting for two years for the government to address the problems of restructuring. The government, which included this in the All Progressives Congress (APC) manifesto, is singing another song. The government has failed to obey its own rules. Instead, it has chosen to resort to violent attacks and killings of dissenting voices.

“The decision of the Niger Delta freedom fighters to go back to the creeks is a reflection of the failure of the government to address the fears and aspirations of the oil-producing communities, who for half a century, have been exploited and raped by successive authorities.”

The group noted: “There can be no meaningful development. There can be no peace and stability, unless the country is restructured to meet the burning desires of Nigerians who want a sharp and radical departure from the ugly past.“As we speak, armed soldiers have been deployed in the southern parts of the country including the South East, the South West and the Niger Delta area. In the South West alone, 315 people have been arrested. At least one person was killed in the Epe area of Lagos. The other regions of South South and South East have seen the deaths of no fewer than 200 people since military operations began in 2016. This is a clear indication that the Nigerian government is not ready to address the fundamental problem facing the country.”

Besides, worried that the Niger Delta Avengers could unleash violence on the region, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has pleaded with the militant group not to embark on further attacks on oil facilities in the region.

“We passionately appeal to the Niger Delta Avengers not to resume hostilities, because Deltans will be the greatest losers. We are barely recovering from the effect of previous attacks and it is our honest appeal that they still give peace a chance by allowing for peaceful engagements with the Federal Government and other stakeholders, the governor said yesterday in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu.

In a related development, former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) yesterday denied an accusation by the Niger Delta Avengers and the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers that he was working covertly for the Federal Government.

Tompolo’s media aide, Comrade Paul Bebemimibo, said: “We wish to reiterate our earlier stand that nothing will make Tompolo resort to the destruction of oil facilities he once protected in a contractual arrangement.”

He added that the accusations did “not take away the fact that our dear country is at a crossroads. Eminent Nigerians have repeatedly said in recent times that Nigeria has never been divided like this since independence in 1960. It is our sincere advice to the government to urgently address the issues that are trending in the country’s political domain.”



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