Prominent leaders and groups in the Niger Delta have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to create a platform to listen to the grievances of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the militant group blowing up oil facilities in the region.
They condemned Buhari’s directive that the armed forces crush the suspected militants, as well as the “no negotiation” posture of the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Gabriel Olonisakin, saying Buhari should facilitate a responsive environment to win their confidence and pull them to the dialogue table.
Olonisakin had said in Lagos, last week: “There are better ways to air their grievances than the way they go about it. The right way is to get necessary permit and protest. If they are violent, we will not take it lightly with them.”
On his part, First Republic Information Minister and S/South elder, Chief Edwin Clark urged President Buhari to emulate his predecessors, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, and former President Goodluck Jonathan, by using dialogue with the Niger Delta militants to end the crisis.
“In my many years of leadership at various levels in this country, I know that any resort to violence and insecurity only leaves a trail of tension, neglect, pain and wanton violence in the areas concerned,” Clark told Vanguard.
“Even when security forces move in with the intention of restoring law and order, it is innocent villagers, in particular, women, children, and the old who suffer most.
“The Niger Delta is yet to recover from the season of violence which we experienced between 2005 and 2009.
“I, again, make the same call and appeal, today, this time in a more shrill voice! Though the perceptions have not changed on the evolving kaleidoscope of national political administration, I remain firmly convinced that the destruction of our national economic golden goose is not a viable option,” Clark said.
Also speaking, the immediate past Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan: “I want to advise the Federal Government to take the issue of dialogue very seriously because I believe that is the solution to the current crisis.
“The leaders of the Niger Delta should come together and engage each other to find solution to the problem,” he said.
He also advised his successor, Ifeanyi Okowa to step up engagement and improve on intelligence gathering to assist the Federal Government in dealing with the situation.