For daring to lead a campaign that led to the emergence of a splinter Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and threatening to stop the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has been declared a persona-non-grata by leaders of ex-militants in the Niger Delta.
The former militants, who spoke at the end of their meeting under the aegis of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI) in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital yesterday, are drawn from all nine states of the Niger Delta.
They said: “”It is unfortunate that Atiku, who has benefitted so much from the Niger Delta’s crude oil and gas, is leading dissidents in a political coup against the first Southerner to ever ascend the seat of President of Nigeria.
“We are aware of his vast business interest in the Niger Delta and we are warning him, in his own interest, to stay off the region.
“He cannot be enjoying our oil money and at the same time use the same money to fight against the owners of the oil.”
They added: “What we thought we would be hearing from the North was how the Federal Government would implement the spirit and letters of the amnesty programme.
“Before the former President, Umaru Yar’Adua died he promised that as soon as we dropped our arms and allowed an unhindered flow of oil from the creeks, we would be given a lifeline.
“He also promised that we would be empowered, to live a new life from the resources of our oil.
“We have been waiting patiently for these to happen. Our acceptance of peace benefitted Atiku and his ilk. Why did he not lead a campaign for the Federal Government to provide the empowerment tools?
“Why has he found it convenient to distract President Jonathan from rendering service to Nigerians?”
They went on: “It is the same Northerners that vowed that they would make the country ungovernable for Dr. Jonathan. By splitting the PDP and causing further tension in the polity, they are demonstrating the agenda of giving President Jonathan sleepless nights, with the intention of taking over power in 2015.”
The former freedom fighters also urged President Jonathan not to be distracted by the antics of persons they alleged were fighting hard to distract him just they reminded the Federal Government on the need to fully implement the terms of the amnesty programme.
Meanwhile, in his reaction, Atiku said he would not be cowed by the militants’ threat to his life and business interests.
His spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu said: “Atiku has devoted his life to defending democracy in Nigeria and will not be prevented or deterred from visiting any part of this great country.
“Throughout his long career in business, he has maintained strong ties to the Niger Delta and employs thousands in the region. He will continue to passionately defend democratic values and his work to improve the dignity and lives of all Nigerians.”