Some youth leaders in the Niger Delta have called on the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups to desist from further attacks on critical oil and gas installations in the region.
The youth leaders were reacting to the Avengers’ decision to pull out of dialogue with the Federal Government, which resulted in the bombing of a crude oil pipeline in Bonny, Rivers State.
The youth leaders, under the aegis of the Grand Council of Niger Delta Youth Leaders, met on Saturday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to assess the current situation in the region, after Friday night’s attack in Bonny.
“As much as we agree that the issues being agitated for are salient, and we identify with the genuine agitations of our brothers, we however condemn in totality the ongoing bombing of oil pipelines, as we believe that this is akin to shooting ourselves in the foot as these activities are counter-productive”, the group’s leader, Clement Awakessien, surrounded by more than a hundred youth leaders, told journalists in Uyo.
Mr. Awakessien said the Nigerian economy was already in serious trouble and that so much was needed to revive it and begged the militants to drop their arms and use dialogue to achieve their goals instead.
The group, which said they subscribed to non-violent approach to addressing the Niger Delta problem, also advised the federal government to urgently work on the broken down federal highways in the region, and revive the Delta steel company, Ovwian – aladja.
The youth leaders also called on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to revisit the new Maritime University at Okorekoko, Delta State, the Olokola Liquefied Natural Gas project, Ondo State, and the Brass LNG, which they said have been abandoned.
“As the economy improves, which we very much believe that your administration is capable of turning the economy from recession to prosperity, we humbly request that your administration open up the Niger Delta by commencing work on the proposed costal road and development of a railway line (Costal corridor) that will run from Lagos to Calabar”, they said to the president.
“This will open up the creeks.
“To open up the creeks have numerous advantages, ranging from easy movement of goods and people, to exposing the world to the tourist potentials of our creeks which will boost the economy and reduce crime generally”.
The youth leaders declared support for President Buhari’s anti-corruption war, and expressed satisfaction in his nominees – Nsima Ekere, Victor Ndoma-Egba, and others – for the Niger Delta Development Commission’s top job.
They asked other youth in the region to give peace a chance, for development to take place.
“Collective good for all can only be achieved through the subjugation of our individual interests and the propagation of positive, general ideals and policies geared towards holistic and overall development. Antagonism and aggression only aids in further eroding our sensibilities and cohesion as an indivisible entity”, they said.