Former members of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) yesterday urged the new militant groups led by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to shun further attacks on oil pipelines in the region and embrace the channel of dialogue initiated by the Federal Government.
The former MEND Leaders, who re-grouped under a peace advocacy group known as the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI), said although the militant groups claimed to be fighting for liberation, the recent attacks on pipelines should be stopped to allow for dialogue and to halt the negative effects the attacks have the people of the region.
LPCDI announced that although they have openly condemned the actions of the Niger Delta Avengers, “we appeal to them to give peace a chance. We are standing on the side of peace and will always do so 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 pipelines and other vices will have a lasting negative 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 effects. We also don't want soldiers to invade our communities like they did in Borno State and render thousands homeless. Rather, we advise them to channel their grievances though the right method instead of destroying their own land and heritage to make their point.
“We appeal to the members of the Niger Delta Avengers and any other groups involved in the recent destruction of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region to reconsider their activities and yield to the call from the Presidency for a dialogue as a means of finding lasting solutions to their grievances. President Muhammadu Buhari's desire to kick start the Ogoni cleanup exercise is a clear demonstration that he has the Niger Delta at heart and will do anything possible to alleviate the suffering of the people of the region and 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 and 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 program of the States as well as 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, and the federal government has further shown their commitment by withdrawing the military from our communities, let's have confidence with courage to yield to the call for dialogue please.”
On the military operations ordered into some Niger Delta communities in search for the Niger Delta Avengers, the ex-militant leaders commended the federal government for withdrawing the military from their 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 program because most of the beneficiaries could not withstand the hardship being 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 program is a security program, many things needed to be done occasionally may not be possible as at the current allocation.”