A group of Niger Delta youths under the aegis of Niger Delta Peace Agitators (NDPA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to stay action in the planned deployment of special forces in the Niger Delta to combat pipeline vandalism and destruction of national infrastructure in the region pending the outcome of the engagements they had commenced to arrest the situation.
The group which cuts across different professional groups deplored the resurgence of vandalism; asked those behind the actions to stop and consider the effect on the environment and the fall out on the already impacted villages so that all outstanding issues would be resolved through dialogue.
The group rose from an enlarged meeting in Port Harcourt presided over by the President of NDPA, Ambassador Tony Benson popularly called Mayor, according to a statement by Spokesman of the body, Ambassador Kenule Nwiya and resolved to engage all groups across the divide to ensure that they stopped the collateral damage that would arise from military action.
According to them, a military operation in the region would affect the innocent villagers and creek dwellers more than those engaging in breaking pipelines and promised to ensure that an enduring truce was achieved for peace to reign.
The group said that Buhari had started some positive engagements in the region and if given chance, would do more as development was only possible in an atmosphere of peace.
“President Muhammadu Buhari should not see an option in deployment of special forces as was threatened by the military. Force will not achieve the needed peace in the region and we have come out to work with all segments in the region to see that we bring everybody to a dialogue table and amicably resolve every outstanding issue for a lasting peace.
“We are also using this opportunity to ask all those still attacking facilities in the Niger Delta to desist and put all hands on deck to achieve the needed development. We are from the Niger Delta region also and feel what our people feel. A military operation in the Niger Delta can only negatively impact on our people so let us all press for peace.
“We also use this opportunity to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for nominating Nsima Ekere as the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which shows that he means well for the region. It may take some time for the result of the plans of the administration to yield fruits; so we are calling for more patience since the President is moving in the right direction”, Nwiya said.
The peace agitators however called on President Buhari to expedite action in the commencement of the Lagos-Calabar rail line which they said would open the region to more development with ease of moving men and goods in and out of the region, adding that there was need for projects within the region to be taken as priority to prove to the people the good intention of the government.
To ensure that tension was not raised further, the Niger Delta Peace Agitators pleaded with spokesmen of both government and groups in the region to tone down their messages and target attainment of peace instead of using offensive words to escalate things.
They pledged to work with all levels of government by making them accountable to the people regretting that the level of development in the region did not reflect its contribution and accruals which they insisted had lowered the standard of living in the region.