The Executive Director of Grassroots Initiative for Peace and Social Orientation, Mr. Richard Akinaka has charged President Muhammadu Buhari to engage local boys to work in collaboration with the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta to protect national assets instead of engaging in military deployments.
Akinaka who had been involved in ensuring peace in the Niger Delta through the implementation of the amnesty programme said military deployment in the region would pitch the government against the locals while securing sympathy for those masquerading as agitators.
According to him, the success recorded by the team led by “Africa” in collaboration with the JTF in Nembe, Bayelsa State where they arrested alleged killers of soldiers was an indicator that with proper interface and coordination, local boys working with the military would smoke out all the destroyers of assets.
The involvement of the traditional rulers, he admitted was timely and to avoid full military deployment in the region but warned however that they should not go about such duties in such a manner as to give undue advantage to the Avengers as it would taint their efforts.
While commending traditional rulers in the region and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu for their interventions which were yielding fruitful results he doubted that those masquerading as defining the interest of the region by carrying out attacks were not true to their purpose.
“While it is true that there are serious issues in the Niger Delta, the people who have been bombing pipelines in the region cannot say they are working for the overall interests of the region but for their own business interests. There is nothing to show that they are agitating for the region as everything they are doing is to further their business interests.
“Where were they when President Goodluck Jonathan ruled the country for over six years without developing any part of the region? Calabar-Itu and Calabar-Ogoja roads are impassable; East-West Road could not be completed and there is no project in the Niger Delta you could point to as executed by that regime, yet it is the regime of President Buhari that is just a year plus in office that they are breaking pipelines and destroying assets to pressure him.
“It is good that there have been positive engagements to restore peace to the region but the government should not negotiate or involve any doubtful element in the peace mix which would give them relevance.
“The government should also not deal with those former militants who move from one office to the office claiming to know how to solve the problem. Those are just paper tigers whose relevance ends on their computers where they issue press releases and abuse people.
Anyone who is concerned and has something he can do about the situation should go to the region and help solve the problem”, Akinaka fumed.
He lamented that the Niger Delta states rely on oil revenue for their development and sustenance but that with the crippling of the sector through criminal destruction of the pipelines were unacceptable, pointing out that they were creating more hardship than helping the cause of the region.
On whether the use of local boys would not spark another group war, he said that if credible names were used and an interface with the JTF adopted, any issue that arose from the scheme would easily be handled using traditional institutions who however he said should avoid impostors.
“We need to point out that what is going on in the region now is not agitation but blackmail by people who have parochial interest to protect that have to be identified, isolated and destroyed. But their game plan is to draw the federal government into deploying the military to villages where those who know nothing about the attacks bear the brunt. In the process, they will get the sympathy of people.
“Avengers are a platform for political and economic interests for selfish gains. Elders should not tie into the scheme of the bad boys by bringing them into a good scheme”, he concluded.