Ex-militant leaders urge avengers to dialogue with FG

By Fegor Oghene, Asaba 

Ex-militant leaders in the Niger-Delta have appealed to the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to stop further destruction of oil installations in the region and accept the proposed peace talk with the Federal Government. 

The umbrella body of the former creek warriors, Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI) told the avengers that their nefarious activities would have lasting negative impact on the region. 

The LPCDI comprising former commanders of the Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), in a statement signed by its President, Mr. Reuben Wilson, aka ‘General’ Pastor, warned that the actions of NDA would force the military to occupy the region the way it did in Borno State. 

Wilson said: “We hereby condemn the actions of the Niger Delta Avengers group, and appeal to them to give peace a chance. We are standing in the side of peace and will always do because of the greater interest of the entire Niger Delta region. 

“If you take an honest look at the actions of the NDA, you will see that the bombing of pipeline and other vices will have a lasting negetive effect on our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters and even children in the communities who will not have a source of livelihood if the whole area is polluted not to talk of the health effect. 

“We also don’t want soldiers to invade our communities like they did in Bornu State and rendered thousands homeless. Rather we advise them to channel their grievances through the right method instead of destroying their own land and heritage to make their point”. 

Wilson, therefore, said the national leadership and the nine-state coordinators of LPCDI asked all members of NDA and other groups involved in the recent destructions of oil facilities to embrace the call from the Presidency for dialogue. 

He said President Muhammadu Buhari had shown commitment to tackle environmental and developmental issues in the region. 

He said: “President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire to kick start the Ogoni clean-up exercise is a clear demonstration that, PMB has the Niger Delta at heart and will do anything possible to alleviate the suffering of the people of the region. He needs our collective support to achieve that, hence, a call for laying down your arms for a meaningful dialogue is highly solicited. 

“The continuous drop in the federal allocations, derivation to the Niger Delta states since the recent actions in the destruction of oil facilities is of a great concern to the development plans and programme of the states. 

“The attendance effect of the military presence in our local communities as in the case of Oporoza should be avoided in the future while we have this opportunity for a dialogue. The Federal Government has further shown their commitment by withdrawing the military from our communities. Let’s have confidence and courage to yield to the call for dialogue.

“We would also want to commend the federal government for withdrawing the military from our communities to allow for a meaningful dialogue. A platform should be created to allow stakeholders participation. 

“We advise that the government should consider the prompt payment of any benefits due the beneficiaries of the current Federal Government Amnesty programme because most of the beneficiaries could not withstand the hardship faced in the urban areas as a result of the persistent delay in payment of their monthly stipends up to three or four months. 

“The Federal Government should also consider the inadequate budgetary allocation to the amnesty office since the amnesty programme is a security programme,  many things needed to be done occasionally may not be possible as at the current allocation. 

“Finally, we enjoin our brothers to give peace a chance, lay down their arms and accept the offer for a meaningful dialogue”.

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