By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
A conglomeration of more than 30 security experts from over 20 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, Japan, Germany, Pakistan, France, Angola, South Sudan and Italy yesterday converged on Bayelsa State to proffer solution to the crisis in the Niger Delta region.
The 31-man delegation of Foreign Defence Attaches which also included countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Iran, Brazil, Niger, Turkey, Senegal and Zambia, said they were in the state to seek first-hand information concerning the protracted security challenges bedeviling the oil-rich area.
Speaking during the event, the Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson called for concerted efforts from the political leadership in the country to muster enough will to tackle the issues once and for all.
To end the problems, Dickson called for the provision of economic opportunities and infrastructural development as a veritable means of mitigating issues of insecurity across the country and in the Niger Delta in particular.
Specifically, the governor stated that the environmental degradation and insecurity in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country could be halted if people saw that the opportunities for survival were expanding.
He also identified physical underdevelopment and environmental pollution, mainly caused by oil and gas production, as some of the underlying factors giving rise to security challenges in the Niger Delta.
While re-emphasising the need for law and order in the region, Dickson reiterated his call on the Federal Government and other stakeholders to show more understanding and collaboration in their efforts to resolve the issues.
He lauded the international community for providing assistance to the country’s military in fighting insurgency and other security challenges in the north east, noting that his administration would continue to give support to the law enforcement agencies to sustain the existing peace in the state.
“All countries have their own fair share of challenges, so security challenges are not peculiar to Nigeria. As you are all aware, all countries deal with their concerns and challenges from time to time.
“But, it is the duty of leadership, especially political leadership, to rise to the occasion and devise non-violent ways of addressing the security concerns and challenges.
“Be they challenges of economic inclusion, or environmental degradation and the need to redress it or be they challenges of more physical development on ground”, he said.
In his comments, the Director, Foreign Liaison of the Defence Intelligence Agency in the country, Brigadier General Augustine Agundu , explained that the visit was organised by the Defence Intelligence Agency to enable the foreign attaches to have first-hand knowledge of the issues.
He added that they needed factual information with a view to changing the stereotypical perception about the Niger Delta and the nation as a whole.
The team leader added that much of the logistics support Nigeria receive from friendly nations, was facilitated by the foreign defence attaches who were on the entourage.
Also in his remarks, the Dean of the Corps of Defence Attaches, Col. Marc Humbert expressed joy that the security situation was improving in the Niger Delta.
Humbert however called for synergy between the political leadership and the military in the fight against insecurity in the region.