By Ejiofor Alike
A former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chibudom Nwuche, has urged the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and all militant groups in the Niger Delta region to sheath their sword and embrace peace.
Nwuche, who also called on the federal government to open up dialogue with the leaders and stakeholders of the region to genuinely address their grievances, further argued that what Nigeria needs now is a just and equitable federalism where all units are given a sense of belonging and equal access to opportunities .
He also urged the federal government to disregard moves by some Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and conflict entrepreneurs, who are positioning themselves as mediators in the dialogue between the federal government and the aggrieved youths.
According to him, such a move is not holistic and representative enough to achieve the desired peace in the region, without involving the political leaders of the region.
In a statement issued in Abuja, Nwuche said the recent acts and campaigns of destruction of oil facilities in the region would have far-reaching negative effects on the people of the region.
He noted that the people of the oil-producing region depend on farming and fishing for sustenance.
“Oil spills and effluents arising from the destructions of pipelines and other oil installations flow into the farm lands, creeks and streams; it possesses very serious environmental threat to the ecosystem by affecting the fauna and flora for which the economic life of most people of the region depends,” Nwuche said.
According to him, the continued destruction of oil pipelines will have adverse effects on the revenue accruing to the Niger Delta states from the Federation Account.
The former deputy speaker also argued that this in turn, affects the ability of the state governments in the region to meet up with their financial responsibility to fulfill the electoral promises made to the people.
“It also affects development in other parts of the country, as oil is the mainstay of our national economy for now,” he added.
He further appealed to the elders and leaders in the South-South region to quickly intervene in the recent upsurge in militancy in the region by suing for dialogue with all aggrieved parties and stakeholders, in order to achieve a lasting peace.
Nwuche also insisted that the elders and leaders should not watch as the region gradually slides into another round of restiveness, which effect would be more damaging to both the economy of the region and overall peace of the country.
He also called on the federal government to involve the political leaders of the region in the negotiations, stressing that the people of the Niger Delta know their true leaders whom they listen to, and are capable of entering into fruitful and purposeful dialogue on their behalf.
He noted that the region also witnessed under-development even during the last administration as no meaningful development was carried out in the region throughout that period, which has further fueled restiveness in the region.