From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
EX-MILITANT leaders of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), have called on new militant groups, the Niger Delta Avengers and the Red Egbesu Water Lion to stop the attacks on oil and gas installations and allow President Mohammad Buhari to fulfill his electoral promises to the region.
The ex-MEND leaders from the nine states of the Niger Delta, who re-grouped under a peace advocacy group known as the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI) after a crucial meeting declared that the actions of the renegade militant groups have become an unnecessary distraction to the Buhari administration.
The ex-militant leaders, in a statement issued yesterday in Yenagoa under the LPCDI, led by Chief Reuben Wilson a.k.a General Pastor, said though violence was used in the past to attract the attention to the world to the plight of the Niger Delta region, “there is the need now to utilize other peaceful and civil means to build on the sympathy of the world towards the region for more effective result, rather than violence.”
They therefore called on the aggrieved youths from the region to shun the temptation of resorting to violence and destruction of oil installations, but rather channel their grievances through the office of the Presidential Amnesty Committee, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) or the office of the foremost former Militant Leader, Comrade Victor Ebikabowei known as Boyloaf for a more effective coordination and positive resolution of their grievances. The group of ex-militant leaders commended the Federal Government on the security action in Delta State to tackle resurgence of militancy and urged the military operatives involved to be professional. The statement reads in part: “We should give President Buhari the opportunity to fulfill his promises to the Niger Delta people by maintaining peace in the region, because there can be no meaningful development in an environment ravaged by violence. Therefore the current resurgence of militancy is an unnecessary distraction to the current administration.
“We have asked President Mohammadu Buhari to strengthen and properly fund the Presidential Amnesty programme in order to stop some of the beneficiaries from going back to the creeks to engage in militant activities owing to hardship and non-fulfillment of the promises made by the Federal Government to them that led to the acceptance of the Presidential Amnesty programme. A situation where monthly stipends are delayed for months is not encouraging and could lead to undesirable consequences.”
The President was also told to ensure massive infrastructural development in the region owing to facts that it’s environment remains highly degraded and underdeveloped with its position as the major revenue base of the nation.
“This is to nip in the bud the use of pathetic situation in the region as bait for the recruitment of unsuspecting and vulnerable youths to militancy and other criminal activities by some criminal elements,” the statement advised.