(Femi Folaranmi, YENAGOA)
The member representing Brass Constituency 1 in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Israel Sunny-Goli, has advised against the current attempts by the Federal Government to negotiate with the Niger Delta Avengers.
Sunny-Goli said in a statement Thursday in Yenagoa that Niger Delta Avengers represented neither the views nor the aspirations of the Niger Delta people. He said negotiating the fate of the people with such a fringe group was a terrible misnomer “capable of plunging the region in the rat race for destructive influence.”
Sunny-Goli in a statement regretted the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta, but said in the release, “As a representative of the people and community leader, I wish to express my worry over some of the approaches being pursued by officials of the Federal Government in the search for solution to the problem.
I am particularly worried about the reported attempt to fix a negotiation between the Federal Government and the Niger Delta Avengers – or its allied groups.
“Niger Delta Avengers does not represent the people of the Niger Delta, and their demands and procedure do not embody the popular aspirations and sentiments in the region. The group is, to all intents and purposes, a gang of foot soldiers assembled by some politicians and persons on the wrong side of the law as a bargaining chip to try to escape punishment or get a soft-landing.”
Sunny-Goli said, “Any negotiation with Niger Delta Avengers would encourage more fringe groups to arise with similarly warped demands that the government would never be able to meet.”
The lawmaker hailed the currents efforts by the President Muhammadu Buhari government to resolve issues in the Niger Delta through peaceful means. But he said, “To tackle the current disturbing situation in the Niger Delta, the Federal Government should concentrate all discussions and negotiations on the leaders of the people. It should discontinue every negotiation with the Niger Delta Avengers and others of that ilk. This is the only way to achieve the much needed peace in region.”
Meanwhile ex-militant leaders in Bayelsa have also said the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers and other groups in the Niger Delta region were in no way aimed at advancing the interest of the people.
The ex-militant leaders agreed to work with the Federal and Bayelsa state governments as well as the security agencies to stamp-out criminality in the state and stop crimes such as pipeline vandalism, sea-piracy, kidnapping, armed robbery and other sundry crimes in the state.
They reminded members of the NDA that “they signed a pact with the federal government in 2009 to drop their armed struggle and embrace peace” warning that “what they are doing is in contravention of that pact and advised the NDA and other militant groups.”