By Willy Eya
THE Federal Government is considering adopting late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s option in tackling the deteriorating situation in the oil-rich region.
On June 29, 2009, Yar’Adua granted amnesty to Niger Delta militants and that started a long process of restoration of peace to the region hitherto crippled by militancy.
An elder statesman from the Niger Delta who is currently occupying a very sensitive position in the country told Daily Sun, on condition of anonymity, that government has realised that only the strategy adopted by Yar’Adua could stop the renewed militancy in the oil-rich region.
Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) have been bombing critivcal pipelines in the region lately.
Regardless, the elder statesman said President Muhammadu Buhari “has been prevailed upon to reconsider his tough stance strategy of using the military option in tackling the menace as that would rather exacerbate the situation.”
“Soon, you may see a new approach by the Federal Government in the way and manner it would handle the Niger Delta Avengers. Just like late Yar’Adua did, it would be a carrot and stick approach. The federal government has realised that trying to use the military to crush the militants may not be easy.
“When Yar’Adua came, he did not threaten anybody, neither did he shoot any gun. He simply adopted the dialogue approach and gave the militants a sense of belonging. Many did not believe it but it worked like magic,” he said.
The source told Daily Sun that Yar’Adua worked with many stakeholders who the militants trusted in achieving his aim.
He revealed for instance that one of the core people, who helped to douse tension in the Niger Delta under Yar’Adua, was the former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mike Okiro who is also from the region.
But the source said even though Okiro was the nation’s police boss then, he did not use officialdom to tackle the situation but engaged the militants, who saw him as a ‘son of the soil’, in series of discussions.
“Many may not know that Yar’Adua used the police authorities so well in achieving his aim in the Niger Delta.
“I can tell you that it was Okiro who sold the idea of the amnesty programme to Yar’Adua and the presidency supported the move through and through.
“Okiro was the intermediary between the militants and Yar’Adua. The former IGP had series of meetings with the president and the militants before the programme took off.
Meanwhile, Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and publicity, Garba Shehu, dimissed dialogue as a foregone conclusion.
“The question you are asking me is stale and has been published in the media.
“President Buhari recently said the Gazette on the amnesty programme should be dusted and, if there are commitments the fedral government made that have not been fulfilled, government would look at them…”