The Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has given the Federal Government two weeks ultimatum to commence negotiations with its Aaron Team on the Niger Delta problem or force the militant group to adopt another strategy to make it to listen.
This is coming on the heels of allegations by elders and leaders from Bayelsa State that some aides of President Muhammadu Buhari are frustrating the negotiation with members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, in a statement which he tagged ‘Right of Reply’ to a recent article entitled “President Buhari Sharpens Focus on Niger Delta” by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mallam Garba Shehu, surprisingly named Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo as part of the new 10-man Aaron team led by former Minister, Odein Ajumogbobia.
Gbomo stated that the Buhari government should not be deceived by the intervention of the Niger Delta Dialogue and Contact Group (NDDCG) led by King Alfred Diete-Spiff, noting that members of the group were silent for six years when former President Goodluck Jonathan held sway in Aso Rock and did nothing to draw the attention of the Presidency then to the lingering Niger Delta problem.
According to MEND, while it is not opposed to the Federal Government negotiating with the NDA, the Buhari government should not be deluded that the negotiation with the NDA would automatically resolve the Niger Delta problem.
MEND which recalled that it backed Buhari in the 2015 Presidential election because Jonathan though from the Niger Delta was not interested in dialogue to resolve the problems of the region, stated that it would not sanction any negotiation with the National Security Adviser because the office lacks executive powers.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the MEND Aaron Team shall not dialogue with the NSA given that the office of the NSA lacks executive power. Given also the fact that the root issues surrounding the Niger Delta question are on the exclusive legislative list. Given further, the fact that the proposed dialogue is not an interrogatory session.
“We therefore hope that the Federal Government shall reach out to the Aaron Team Leader, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia to signal government intention to commence the dialogue. If after two weeks from the date of publication of this Right of Reply we didn’t hear from the Federal Government, MEND shall safely assume that the government is truly not sincere about dialogue on the Niger Delta question and responds only to the threat of violence or industrial action,” Gbomo said.
Meanwhile, prominent elders and traditional rulers from the eight local government council areas of Bayelsa State on Friday alleged that some of the aides of President Muhammadu Buhari from the region are frustrating the proposed dialogue between the Federal Government and the new militant groups led by the Niger Delta Avengers.
According to the elders, though the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to lead the proposed dialogue is commendable, the show of deceit, fraud and discordant tunes among the presidential aides from the region have created a huge doubt between the militant youths and the present administration.
The elders under the aegis of Bayelsa Elders for Progress, Peace and Good Governance (BEPPGG) and led by the coordinator, High Chief Ayibatonye Goodnews and secretary, Chief Lucky Ebifaghe, declared that the recent activities of key aides from the region including the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu and the coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh are allegedly frustrating the peace efforts of the present administration.
The concerned elders, in an open letter to the president insisted that “President Buhari should investigate the genuineness of purported meetings held between Boroh and Kachikwu. “How can they claim to have met stakeholders and the militant attacks continue? They met some fake militants and stakeholders and wasted scarce resources of the Federal Government on jamboree.
“The Amnesty boss, who claimed to have relocated to the creeks of the region, was only sighted in Tompolo’s community holding clandestine meetings without solution to the continued bombing of the oil and gas facilities. Buhari should investigate the money expended on the jamboree without result. We insist that the Presidential Amnesty Office should be probed following the alleged failed sharing of resources to fake Avengers,” the letter stated.