Begs militants to cease hostilities
Leaders brand group saboteurs
Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba and Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State said his state was worst hit by the negative impact of series of oil pipeline bombing by the new militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers.
The governor therefore, appealed to the masterminds of the bombings and destruction of the oil facilities to cease fire and allow the federal government and stakeholders look into their grievances through a civil process.
He noted that those behind the spate of vandalism in the state could make their point without resorting to the present scale of destruction of lives and property.
Okowa made the remarks while inaugurating Jeddo-Ughoton Road in Okpe Local Government Area of the state, on the fourth day of projects launching across the state as part of activities marking his one year in office.
He pointed out that the state, where most of the oil facilities are being destroyed by the militants, was losing on all fronts, from the financial or economic to the environmental effects of the pipeline bombing.
“The pipeline vandalism that is going on is very bad for Delta State,” Okowa said. “We are suffering from pollution, our communities are affected, we are the greatest losers; our communities are impacted negatively.
“I want to appeal to our brothers who are involved in one way or the other in these acts of vandalism to stop,” he pleaded, adding, “We cannot destroy ourselves in order to make a point, there are more civil ways of channeling grievances which we should apply than vandalising pipelines and endangering our people.”
Okowa, who had inaugurated projects in Ika area on Tuesday with former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, noted that his attention was drawn to the deplorable state of the Jeddo-Ughoton Road by the Orodje of Okpe, Orhue I, commending the contractor for the timely completion of the project.
The Okpe royal father in a brief remark, congratulated the people of state for the emergence of Okowa as governor, who he described as “a listening governor.”
He said he only made a phone call that attracted the governor to direct the construction of the inaugurated road.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the Niger Delta region have branded the resurgent militants, especially the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) as saboteurs who are bent on destroying the region’s common heritage.
The elders who came under the umbrella of Concerned Niger Delta Leaders, deplored the recent attacks on the oil facilities and economic infrastructures, describing it as a criminal act aimed at erasing what binds the people together.
These concerns were being expressed yesterday by the National Coordinator of the group, Chief Mike Loyibo, who said during a press conference in Abuja condemned the ongoing attacks on the oil pipelines by the NDA.
Loyibo who spoke alongside a former Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Ebebi Peremobowei, warned that the actions of the militant group were unacceptable to both the federal government and the people of the area.
He called on all stakeholders in the unity of the country to condemn the actions of the militant group, saying that their agenda is very vague but capable or wrecking the foundation of the nation.
To this end, Lobiyo appealed to the rampaging groups to lay down their arms and eschew violence in order to attract sustainable development to the oil rich region.
He emphasised the fact that violence was neither an option nor solution to their problems, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to take all the necessary actions to crush the “saboteurs”, restore peace and normalcy Niger Delta.
He noted that Niger Delta people are peace-loving, and assured that they would give the required support to federal government policies in the area and the country as a whole.
He however called President Buhari to “provide critical infrastructure to the area, give serious consideration to the region in the next round of political appointments and also ensure the take off of academic activities at the Maritime University, Okerenkoko.”
Loyibo also commended the president’s appointment of Major General Paul Boroh (rtd) as the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), and called for allocation of more funds to the programme.
He stressed that the fact that the programme does not “have a terminal date and could only be concluded after the training of the 11,000 delegates of the programme awaiting training.”
He said: “We have for some time watched with utmost dismay the manner in which the Niger Delta Avengers, a group with an aimless agenda, has been destroying our common heritage and the economic mainstay of the country through the vandalisation of critical government infrastructure and oil installations.
“To us, the agenda of these people still remains unclear. At best, their actions are clear acts of sabotage and criminality, both against the state and humanity. It is also a direct threat to the collective existence of us all. The activities of the Niger Delta Avengers also threaten the un-negotiable unity of Nigeria to its very foundation, and this must be condemned by all well meaning stakeholders.”
Speaking further, Lobiyo however, cautioned the security forces to exhibit high level of professionalism in the conduct of the ongoing operation to fish out the members of the group, noting that the “last operation in Gbaramatu resulted in the suffering of innocent people including children, the aged and women”.
According to him, the flagrant use of the military and armed forces to resolve differences and conflicts is inferior to dialogue, which has proven globally to yield more lasting solution and peace.
He also called on the former militant leaders and war-lords to help towards resolution of the brewing conflicts and call the Avengers to order.
He continued: “You don’t use military solutions in addressing problems, one of the steps, we want to use is to be able to use former agitatithe who embraced the Amnesty Programme. If you bring all the military, you have not solved the problem.
“The problem is not to go and crush them, the problem is to dialogue with them and ensure that you solve the problem once and for us. If there are any issues then, try to address them.”
The other members of the Concerned Niger Delta Leaders are: retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Francis Tabai, former Military Administrator of the Old Bendel State, Gen. John Yeri, the First Military Administrator of Rivers State and the His majesty, the Amayanabo of Twon Brass, Alfred Diete-Spiff.