By Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The hope of ending incessant bombings of crude oil pipelines remain elusive over the weekend as two major violent militant groups, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and its Urhobo/Isoko counterpart, Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM) disagreed on the 16 point demands presented to President Muhammadu Buhari during last Tuesday meeting with leaders and elders of the region.
While Niger Delta Avengers maintain that it was not disappointed by the outcome of the meeting between elders of the region and the federal government, its counterpart noted for destruction of oil pipelines upland, NDGJM said the humiliation that came with the meeting of the PANDEF with President Buhari was not a surprise to the group.
Their positions were contained in separate statements issued and signed by Messrs Aldo Agbalaja for NDGJM and Mudoch Agbinibo for NDA, both disagreeing on the contents of the demands as well as the composition of the team that met with the president.
The NDA, which first issued its statement, said it was not disappointed by the outcome of the meeting between elders of the region and the federal government.
It stated emphatically that the fathers and elders of the region had done the needful and was not disappointed noting that the issues they raised brought to the fore the mistakes of the federalism that sustained the struggle for restoration of their land.
“Our fathers and elders have done the needful we are not disappointed. The issues they raised bring to the fore the mistakes of the Nigerian federalism that have sustained the perennial struggle for restoration of our land.”
The militant group said the demands by their elders and fathers were the minimal legitimate roadmap to setting up the framework to achieving the short, medium and long objective for the restoration of tranquility and development of the region.
“Some are issues that need affirmative actions, the immediate take off of academic activities for the Nigerian Maritime University (NMU) Okerenkoko for the 2016/17 academic sessions, withdrawing all occupational security agencies and agents in the Niger Delta.
“The Nigerian state genuinely need the cooperation of our people to sustain the flow of the abundant crude oil and gas resources in our land to quench her appetite of developing other sections of the country without regards to the Niger Delta, the people and the environment,” it added.
The militant group said the Niger Delta elders and leaders under the leadership of Edwin Kiagbodo Clark’s Pan-Niger Delta Elders and Stakeholders Forum deserves kudos from all well meaning Nigerians for presenting such minimal demands before the government to pacify a people and region that has being continuously raped and dehumanised since 1914.
It said the demands tabled before President Buhari would lead the roadmap to engender desired peaceful atmosphere that Nigerian state so need if there was sincerity.
“Our Elders, Traditional Rulers and stakeholders have spoken. They have placed the minimal legitimate demands of the Niger Delta region before the Nigerian government. The prospects of regaining the trust of the people by talking down on the people or using the instruments of force by the state are gone,” NDA said.
But the Urhobo/Isoko militant group rubbished the meeting between President Buhari and the Clark-led elders and leaders, insisting that the team comprised spent forces that were not representing the various people in the region.
“Like we said prior to now, if there will be a dialogue and an agreement between the Niger Delta and the federal government, it has to be transparent and sincere, and the representatives of our people will be selected by the various people, not handpicked by the cabal of leeches responsible for the current deplorable state of our land and people,” it added.
The militant group said the humiliation that came with the meeting of the PANDEF with President was not a surprise to the NDGJM, apparently referring to the president’s statement that those who have another country should leave.
“We expected it because we know even the government knows the character and intent of the man and most of those he led to the meeting. We warned and the government/the world gave heed. The only painful part is the fact that the humiliation is stamped on the collective image of our people,” it stated.
While claiming responsibility for last Tuesday destruction of Trans Frocados Export pipeline, NDGJM said it was a warning to Nigeria, noting that its central command had put in place a grand plan to bring the country’s daily output crude oil quota to 500,000 stressing that the nation should be ready for the approaching Tsunami.
On the perceived disagreements amongst the militants, the NDA however agreed that there was problems amongst the various groups in the agitation stressing that they might not be talking with one voice assuring that the truth will soon come out.
“There are no problems among groups in the agitation; we may have challenges of speaking in one voice. When the trumpet blows, we will go the biblical way of “separating the Wheat from the Tares” (Matthew 13:24-30).
“We know that, there are some elements and by-products of conflicts merchants from the Niger Delta working with some sold and bought up interests against the peace and development of the Niger Delta that works closely with President Buhari,” it added.
Meanwhile, Niger Delta Intellectual body, the South-south Reawakening Group (SSRG) yesterday urged the federal government to ignore calls for the withdrawal of troops from the Niger Delta region.
Convener of the group, Joseph Ambakederimo, said in Warri that people of the region were the architects of the deployment of troops to the area and therefore should be ready to bear the brunt.
“On the call for the withdrawal of the military from the region, we say No. SSRG supports the militarisation of the region as this has brought some sanity and safety of lives and property. It is only those who have something to hide that are uncomfortable with the presence of the military.
“If we follow due process and employ civilised means of ventilation of grievances, there would have been no need for the military to be deployed to the region.
“We invited them and therefore we have to endure the pains and discomfort that come with it,” the SSRG said.