Rights activist and Itsekiri high chief, Mrs. Rita Lori-Ogbebor, has called on the members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to stop the destruction of oil installations in the region, adding that interventionist agencies in the region should be held responsible for failing to make judicious use of funds appropriated for the region’s development.
Lori-Ogbebor, who lamented that the renewed militancy would only exacerbate the environmental and socio-economic problems in the region, stated that only the cessation of hostilities by the militants would pave the way for peace.
She told select journalists in Lagos that neither the present government nor its predecessor should be blamed for the resurgence of militancy, blaming political leaders in the region whom she noted failed to make use of the gains of past interventions to develop the region.
According to her, “The failure of interventionist agencies to have a focus, to have a plan and implement them in addition with high degree of greed got us to this level.
“These militants are young men who are being used and who have not been given proper direction. It is the same leaders who embezzle money meant for the development of the region that instigate these boys to go and destroy. I have never made any mistake about my belief that Niger Delta leaders are the cause of the present crisis. They are not genuine. They should go to other states especially in western states and see what the leaders are doing but that is not the case with Niger Delta states.
“Those of us who produce oil should go back to the drawing table and look at ourselves and ask ourselves if we want to really develop the region or our homes.
“After that, the federal government can meet us, but nobody is going to stampede us into destroying of pipelines because that will take us back to where we were.”
Lori-Ogbebor, who is also a business woman in Lagos, stated: “When we know what happened to past funds made available to the Niger Delta ministry, NDDC, Amnesty Programme and other interventionist agencies, then we can advise the government on what to do, but when there is nothing to justify the huge allocations, would it be right for the government to start pouring money into the hands that will squander it? And when there is no money they will turn around to break pipelines.
“I am calling on Chief Edwin Clark to call his people to order because he is the leader of his people. And he was close to the President Goodluck Jonathan government. They cannot continue to be threatening us all the time. We had our son there who brought out the money for development but we shot ourselves on the leg. What I am appealing to all of them now is for the ‘Avengers’ militants to put down their guns and when they do that, we will go in because it is our home. The truth is that we cannot continue carrying guns because there is nowhere violence has solved any problem because the federal government is bound to listen.”
She urged the militants to obey the law by desisting from destroying pipelines and ruining the economy of the country. “When they put down their guns that is the day I will meet Buhari to alert him that there are things to be done properly in the Niger Delta region,” the activist stated