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According to him: “They blow up oil pipelines, power and other infrastructure. They attack and kill prominent individuals, ransacking homes up and down the coastal areas, including lately, Lagos and Ogun states. All these for what?”
MEND, however, denied that Niger Delta militants were behind the killings and attacks on some coastal communities in Lagos and Ogun.
Calling on Buhari to act fast
in addressing issues it had earlier raised, the group listed names of those the government must negotiate with, warning that “if we don’t hear from the Federal Government, MEND shall safely assume that it is truly not sincere about dialogue on the Niger Delta question and responds only to the threat of violence or industrial action”.
Full statement below:
The attention of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has been drawn to an article titled: “President Buhari Sharpens Focus On Niger Delta,” written by Mr. Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.
We have carefully studied and analysed the article. We wholeheartedly applaud and welcome President Buhari’s sharpened focus on the Niger Delta even though, in our estimation, Mr. Shehu’s article ironically did more to obtuse the focus.
Mr. Shehu’s piece was unfortunately marred by sweeping assumptions; hasty generalization; illogicality and poor analysis of the Niger Delta question and, above all, the article merely provided lame excuses for Government’s inability to proffer sustainable solutions to
the Niger Delta crisis.
It was tactless of Mr. Shehu to arrive at a conclusion in his article that, Niger Delta militants were behind the killings of prominent individuals and attacks on some coastal communities in Lagos and Ogun states. This casual but hasty generalization from a Presidential spokesperson is, to say the least, steeply divisive and capable of sparking a tribal war of unimaginable consequences between the Ijaws (whose youth are perceived to constitute a large number of the rank and file of Niger Delta militants) and the Yorubas.
Quite apart from the fact that none of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) operatives have so far, been arrested by security agencies to establish Mr. Shehu’s sweeping assumption, the comment by Mr. Shehu is regrettable and infra dig his office.
Going forward, three salient issues which clearly reveal the seeming inability of President Buhari’s government to find sustainable solutions to the Niger Delta crisis can be distilled from Mr. Shehu’s article.
Firstly, he made heavy weather about the Punch newspaper editorial of July 1, 2016, as a basis to justify Government’s reluctance to negotiate with the NDA and other militant groups. Thereafter, he cited National Security Adviser (NSA) General Babagana Monguno’s alleged encounter with about 14 different militant groups who were all “claiming leadership to the renewed onslaught on the nation’s economic jugular vein.”
Secondly, Mr. Shehu revealed in his article, the reluctance of Government to take “the strongest possible military action” against the NDA and other militant groups while appealing to Elders and Traditional Rulers from the Niger Delta region such as HRH King Alfred
Diette-Spiff, the Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass in Bayelsa state to beg the militants to ceasefire.
Thereafter, Mr. Shehu informed that President Buhari would take action (presumably, military action) after receiving reports from Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who was interfacing with stakeholders; Special Adviser on Niger Delta/Co-ordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brigadier General Paul Boroh (rtd); and the new Management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Thirdly, Shehu in his article bemoaned the proliferation of solutions to the Niger Delta crisis while asking rhetorical questions, to wit: “How many of those agreements, joint statements, ceasefires and peace declarations do we have on record so far? Why haven’t they
given us peace? What is wrong with those agreements that they don’t last?”
Mr. Shehu failed to proffer answers to his own questions. He also failed to apportion blame on successive Governments and the International Oil Companies (IOCs) who have repeatedly reneged on agreements entered with the people of the Niger Delta. For instance,
Mr. Shehu needs to be reminded that Government and the IOCs are owing the NDDC billions of Naira in withheld funds. But that is a discussion for another day.
There is a marked distinction between negotiation with criminals and fraudsters who force concessions from Government using the strategy of attacks on oil installations, on the one hand; and dialogue with genuine militant groups such as MEND, who are
to meaningfully engage Government on the vexed Niger Delta question, on the other hand. While the former engage in militancy for their own personal aggrandizement; the latter are patriots who are fighting a just cause and are equally desirous of peace, stability and
development of the Niger Delta region for the Common Good.
As unfolding events in Nigeria have since revealed, the major challenge of President Buhari’s government lies in its inability to distinguish between NEGOTIATION (emphasis supplied) with criminal elements such as the NDA who are sabotaging the nation’s economy and whose demands range from the mundane to the outright ridiculous, on the one hand; and DIALOGUE (emphasis supplied) on the Niger Delta question with a serious-minded group such as MEND, on the other hand.
The way and manner criminal gangs such as the NDA hold Government to ransom and force concessions; is the same way and manner pressure groups such as PENGASSAN, NUPENG or even the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) oftentimes held Government to ransom, regardless of the risks posed by their actions to the national economy and to the lives of ordinary Nigerians. The only difference here is that NDA ups the ante with their senseless and unprovoked attacks on oil installations. Willy-nilly, Government must negotiate with them even though their belligerent and bellicose conducts may be inimical to the national interest.
The government is therefore at liberty to negotiate with arm-twisting unions and criminal groups like the NDA so long as such negotiations were done in the national interest. After all, even in the United States and other Western countries, professional negotiators were
often engaged by those Governments to negotiate with criminals who may have held innocent citizens hostage; while at the same time, placing snipers on standby to take out the threat to national security whenever the opportunity presented itself.
MEND is therefore not opposed to Government’s plan to negotiate with the recalcitrant NDA through the office of the NSA. However, Government must not delude itself into thinking that negotiation with the NDA was tied to the resolution of the Niger Delta question. Negotiation with NDA is merely a temporary respite, as another opportunistic group is lurking in the shadows. But dialogue and resolution of the Niger Delta question is a sustainable solution for all stakeholders.
MEND have repeatedly reiterated that the Niger Delta struggle was beyond attacks on oil installations. In fact, destruction of oil and gas pipelines is an elementary course in guerilla warfare which can be carried out by any militant group. MEND, therefore stopped attacks on oil installations more than two years ago when the group unilaterally declared a ceasefire of hostilities on May 30, 2014, against Nigeria’s key economic and strategic interests. Since then, the group had relentlessly sought to engage Government in a sincere DIALOGUE (emphasis supplied) on the release of Prisoners of Conscience, including Henry and Charles Okah, as well as addressing the root issues bedevilling the Niger Delta region, without success.
On January 6, 2015, when MEND realised that former President Goodluck Jonathan – an indigene of the Niger Delta – was not interested in dialogue, on the Niger Delta question, the group endorsed Muhammadu Buhari as its candidate in the 2015 Presidential election; in the earnest belief that President Buhari would sincerely welcome dialogue on the Niger Delta question. MEND therefore calls on President Buhari to refrain from being deceived by the recent visit of HRH King Alfred Diette-Spiff to the Presidential Villa under the pretext of a hurriedly formed Niger Delta Dialogue and Contact Group (NDDCG).
Throughout the 6-year tragic rein of former President Goodluck Jonathan, King Diette-Spiff said or did nothing on record to draw the attention of the former President to the resolution of the Niger Delta question. He and other elders and elites of the region, including
Chief Edwin Clark, certain ex- militants, tribal assemblies such as the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) as well as a coterie of so-called Niger Delta activists; embarrassingly kept mute and turned a blind eye during the 6 years of colossal waste, unmitigated corruption, monumental fraud in the unsustainable amnesty programme, environmental decay and neglect, infrastructural stagnation such as the wicked and criminal abandonment of the East/ West road project, among others.
Regardless of the fact that there is a consensus of opinion that the Federal Government is not sincere about the kind of dialogue advocated by MEND, the group has nevertheless, named an Aaron Team comprised of the following persons:
i. Henry Odein Ajumogobia, SAN (Rivers) – Team Leader;
ii. Bismark Jemide Rewane (Delta) – Awaiting re-confirmation;
iii. Senator Florence Ita-Giwa (Cross River);
iv. High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Delta) – Awaiting confirmation;
v. Ledum Mitee, Esq. (Rivers);
vi. Lawson Omokhodion (Edo);
vii. Ibanga Isine (Akwa Ibom);
viii. Senator Adolphus Wabara (Abia);
ix. Alfred Isename (Edo);
x. Timipa Jenkins Okponipere, Esq. (Bayelsa) – Team Secretary
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 “Aaron Team Leader” Mr. Odein Ajumogobia to signal Government intention to commence the dialogue. If after two (2) weeks from the date of publication of this Right of Reply we don’t hear from the Federal Government, MEND shall safely assume that Government is truly not sincere about dialogue on the Niger Delta question and responds only to the threat of violence or industrial action.
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Covid-19: 6 Ways To Overcome Boredom During Stay-home Period
Due to the spread of covid-19 accross the world, most states in Nigeria are presently observing lockdown. Therefore, here are some ways to overcome boredom during stay-home period. 6 Ways Overcome Boredom Stay-home
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Considering the fact that everyone has no option than to stay at home to avoid the spread of covid-19 in our respective states or countries, boredom has been the order of the day which most people has been complaining about.
And to solve the problem of boredom you have to understand that you can’t go out, you can’t mingle neither can you gist with friends in crowded places, and you have to maintain social distancing — these are some of the measures to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
So you ask yourself, I am being quarantined, how will I scale through boredom? You ask yourself, I am always alone, how will I prevent being bored? How will I overcome this boredom that is already drowning me?However, to be able to enjoy your stay home period, the following are ways you could actually prevent yourself from dull moments:
- Watch interesting movies: This is the time you have to increase your interest in film watching. You need to know the latest movies in town and make as well watch them when you’re bored.
- Listen to music: music is life, music bring you peace and happiness. Good music minister to the soul. This quarantine period is a time you need to listen to good music, ensure you learn their lyrics and sing them along. If you’re a type that knows how to dance, you could dance to the music alone in your room. Now te me, are you not overcoming boredom like that?
- Start reasonable argument with roommates or siblings: If you’re living with a friend or you’re probably in your family house, you have to start some reasonable argument with your friends or siblings in order to make the atmosphere lively. You could argue about celebrities, politics, football and also on academics line.Play interesting games: I know so many people have been doing this but they still have to keep playing games so as to prevent themselves from dull moments.
- Follow trends on social media: This is another way to overcome dull moments, you have follow what is trendy on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
- Watch comedy clips: Of course to there are lot of comedy clips out there you could watch, follow comedian on Instagram and YouTube. Watch their clips and get over boredom.
- Read books and interesting novels: Of course, this is the time you have to develop interest in reading. There are lots of interesting story books that could bring life to your dull moments. You could Google interesting stories or download book apps to get yourself busy and lively reading books.
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Nigeria To Unveil Her First Home-Made Ventilator,Today
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National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure has manufactured the first made in Nigeria ventilators to fight COVID – 19 pandemic in Nigeria.
This is a gesture made in order to aid COVID-19 patients in breathing.
In a notice made by NASENI spokesman , Segun Ayeoyenikan , on Monday , revealed that Minister of Science and Technology , Dr Ogbonnaya Onu , would unveil the respirators, Tuesday ( today ) .
Recall that, Nigeria government, begged for respirators from American billionaire,through the Federal Ministry of Finance before it was withdrew as it was seen as national embarrassment,not long ago.
However,with this Nigeria ,too can make used of her home-made ventilators for her COVID-19 patients.
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Is Nigeria Worth Dying For?
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I have not been privileged to travel outside the shores of the Nigerian nation and the African continent. However, friends of mine who have been opportuned to travel out for study, work and holidays often say it to my hearing of how governments of other nations treat their citizens with care. The reverse seems to be case in Nigeria. It seems there is no sanctity and dignity of the human life. No wonder, citizens of other nations treat us with contempts.
Going down the memory lane, there have been several cases of the government failing to act as the custodian of the human person. Even in legal cases involving citizens of Nigeria and other countries, both within and outside the continent, citizens of other countries seem to gain the upper hand. This is because their government provides several facilities that make the legal process smooth sailing.
I remembered in 2014, when the nation was battling with the deadly Ebola Virus. Dr. Adadevoh Ameyo who in a bid to cure the virus lost her life wasn’t given any tangible award to honour her.
Also in another dimension, when cases of casualty involving military personnel is recorded, the way they are treated is horrifying. The whole situation is as though they have only followed the dictates of their heart. The families that are left behind are not given any special treatment. This was what dissuaded me from joining the military.
Whereas, governments of other nation states organise comprehensive welfare programmes for their citizens (old, young, literate and illiterate), we are ridiculed and made to suffer in the midst of plenty “. Unemployed youths are used as political instruments of thuggery during elections, while children of the rich feed of large budgets, this making things turn from bad to worse.
Before elections, political candidates suddenly turn the friends of the poor promising Heaven on earth. After suddenly wielding the sword of power to themselves, they turn enemies making ignorant ones believe it isn’t their duty to make things better. We are forced to accept the fact that travelling abroad won’t make things better and that Nigeria has a lot opportunities. On the contrary, dying in the face of war, doesn’t call for a heroic celebration.
Dying for one’s country is the highest level of patriotism. However, with the current realities, I cannot die for Nigeria. Dear reader, my question to you is this: Can You Die For Nigeria? Do share your thoughts in the comments section.
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