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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Niger Delta Leaders Representing Militants Are Not Genuine – Presidency

The Presidency may have discarded the various Niger Delta fora that have shown readiness to represent the militants in a dialogue with the Federal Government as it has commenced a fresh search for Niger Delta leaders, with control over militants, just as it yesterday, charged supporters of former President Goodluck Jonathan to move on, saying that the Jonathan government was gone and gone forever.
This came as a top executive of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of traditional rulers, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of Niger Delta, Prof Lucky Akaruese, yesterday, said the allocation of a colossal N29 billion by the Buhari administration allegedly for military warfare in the Niger Delta, was a sign that he was hypocritical on his call for dialogue.
Akaruese, a member of the Central Working Committee of PANDEF, in a statement, said: “If the President is truly sincere on dialogue as the surest way towards peace and progress in the Niger Delta, why is it that in another breathe, he is budgeting a whopping N29 billion to deploy military warfare in the region when the funds in question would go a long way in addressing the root causes of insurgency.”
Special Adviser to the President on Media, Mr. Femi Adesina, spoke in an interview monitored on AIT, while responding to insinuations of a disconnect between the President and the Niger Delta. He expressed concern that repeated efforts by the Presidency to engage leaders of the region were yet to bear fruit, adding that two days after the last meeting between the President and regional leaders, a pipeline was destroyed.
He said: “The President told the Niger Delta elders that visited him that it was important we get these militants under one umbrella because after you might have talked to this group, another group will come up. With this kind of arrangement, you won’t get to know the real people. This is why the President has given an assignment to certain people to determine how many these groups exist. They should speak with the leadership and ascertain what they want and how government can meet with them. The President has given out that assignment.
“Do not forget that there was a major meeting with Niger Delta elders and leaders, traditional rulers and the second day after that meeting, there was sabotage of pipeline. Now, if the leaders had a meeting with Mr. President today and pipeline was sabotaged the following day, it shows something is wrong. And that is why Mr. President said everybody needs to come together under one umbrella and it is very critical and very important that they come under one umbrella so as to move these issues forward.”
Prof Akaruese of PANDEF, continuing, said “The root causes of the crisis in the Niger Delta, we all know are under development, neglect and marginalization, which have been copiously articulated in the 16-point dialogue issues submitted to Mr. President by PANDEF on November 1.
“In fact, stakeholders in the Niger Delta region are in unison that the immediate take-off NMU, Okerenkoko remains a strong point to measure the readiness of government for the dialogue process, as against military option in the region.”
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