From: Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
A Niger Delta group, the Grassroots Initiative for Peace and Social Orientation (GIPSO), has declared that the people of the region are ready to back the Federal Government in its quest to resolve the lingering problem of the region.
The group, which slammed the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and pipeline vandals for, according to it, giving the people of the Niger Delta region a bad image, said the activities of the two groups were inimical to the interest and aspiration of the Niger Delta people.
Chairman of GIPSO, Mr. Richard Akinaka, in a press conference addressed, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, declared that NDA were behind pipeline vandalism to sabotage the various pipelines as part of their strategy to blackmail and arm twist the Federal Government for selfish gains.
Akinaka also commended President Mohammadu Buhari for sending Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the region to chart the roadmap for peace.
The group noted that it was evident that dialogue was a better option than the military option being military solution in resolving the problems of the region.
The group, however, pointed out that solving the problems of the Niger Delta region should be beyond the visit as the Federal Government needs to come up with a concrete action plan.
“It is to the fact that reasoning prevailed over force as they are wanted to deploy in the first instance. The visit is not the problem of the Niger delta because in the past, people have played host to high profile visits. It is not all about high profile visits like this but it is about solving the fundamental issues over the years that have caused one agitation to another.
“He (Osinbajo) has visited, spoken and issues have been brought up. The visit should be about appeasing one person to stop pipeline vandalism and increase production. If the visit is to singularly satisfy such interest, another set of people will take up arms hoping that government will come and talk to them.
“But times have come where we should go beyond meetings and discussion. The government must also set its priorities right and do the right thing to ensure that peace and equity prevails so that the region that lays the golden egg and sustains this nation is given the preference it deserves”
On the operation of illegal refineries, Akinaka appealed to the Federal Government to legalise the operations so as to stimulate the economy of Niger Delta states.
“The Federal Government must legalise the operation of local operators in the region because of the huge benefits it will have on the economy. And also it will reduce the environmental hazards we are faced with currently because by sheer ingenuity the youths have been able to provide products to the region where the country’s refineries can’t meet our demands. Ninety per cent of the AGO and Kerosene around are being produced by the youths of the Niger delta via their illegal refineries. Government set the right standards through the enabling laws and the the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to ensure compliance.”