By Emma Emeozor
Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka yesterday appealed to the Federal Government to attend to the grievances of the militants positively.
According to him, doing so, would assist in resolving the Niger Delta crisis as quickly as possible, a demand the militants had made on the government while stating that he had accepted to mediate.
The militants had continued to blow up oil pipelines in the region, resulting in declining supply and dwindling revenue.
Soyinka spoke to journalists in Lagos yesterda, making good his promise to address them when he visited President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on August 11, 2016. He did not disclose his mission to Aso Rock then.
At the Press conference, the Nobel laureate said he would no longer be speaking to Nigerian journalists over issues concerning Nigeria’s efforts to end militancy in the Niger Delta.
Reports had quoted Soyinka as saying that the services of international mediators would be sought to mediate between the government and militants to resolve the Niger Delta crisis.
Rather, Soyinka said he would rather discuss a Lebanese-Nigerian partnership involving his Wole Soyinka Foundation.
“I know that when I was – to use the Press expression – ambushed at the Villa the other day, I did say that I would answer questions about my visit to the Villa at a Press conference that I‘d already planned, which was this one as a matter of fact,” he spoke in a room filled with reporters of major Nigerian news outlets.
Meanwhile, Soyinka appealed to the government to hold positive negotiations with the militants in order to solve the crisis in the region. “I wish to make an appeal publicly to the government, and please report me accurately, to respond positively to the outrage from the militant groups,” he said.
“That is the request which has been made by some of the groups who got me into this interventionist role in the first place. At the moment, they feel that the government of President Buhari is not seriously responding to their own outrage. And I wish to make a personal appeal to the government to respond positively and let us see where it ends us.
“But I’m not part of any international group, I was approached personally and I’ve been responding personally to some of these groups just as I did when President Jonathan was in power and MEND was the umbrella group of the insurgents.
“So I make that appeal once more to the government, please respond to the efforts of these militant groups to arrive at a holistic and comprehensive solution.
“Please don’t attribute to me things I never said.”
Recall that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had announced a seven-member team, led by Odein Ajumogobia, a former minister of petroleum, to dialogue with the Federal Government.
Jomo Gbomo, MEND’s spokesman, said in an online statement that other members of the group, tagged, “Aaron Team 2”, are Bismark Rewane (Delta) and Florence Ita-Giwa (Cross River).
The rest are Timipa Jenkins Okponipere (Bayelsa), Ledum Mitee (Rivers) and Lawson Omokhodion (Edo) and Ibanga Isine (Akwa Ibom), who is a PREMIUM TIMES reporter.