The Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, yesterday, said that the people of Niger Delta want to assume ownership of their resources, and urged the international community to support the quest.
In the last two weeks, the Avengers had bombed pipelines in both Delta and Bayelsa states, forcing Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, and others to shut down operations.
However, a member of the Delta State House of Assembly, Daniel Yingi, national coordinator of Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, Sheriff Mulade, and other stakeholders, cautioned the militants to embrace dialogue with government, while former chairman of Delta Waterways and Security Committee, DWSC, Warri, Chief Ayiri Emami, said criminality should be separated from agitation for resource control.
Holding the country to ransom
Meanwhile, National President of National Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-Agitators, NCNDE-A, Israel Akpodoro, yesterday, insisted that no group, including the Niger Delta Avengers, should hold the country to ransom.
He also faulted the claim by Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force JNDLF, that ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, had fled the country to Libya, saying it was a red herring.
NDA in a statement by its spokesperson, Brig.-General Mudoch Agbinibo, said: “Since the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 to date, our resources have been used to sustain the political administrative live wire of Nigeria to the exclusion of the Niger Delta.
“We are calling on the international community to come and support the restoration of our right to peaceful self-determination from this tragedy of 1914 that has expired since 2014. We want our resources back to restore the essence of human life in our region for generations to come because Nigeria has failed to do that. The world should not wait until we go the Sudan ways.
“Since the day crude oil was discovered in commercial quantity in Oloibiri, present day Bayelsa State, what we have been asking successive governments in Nigeria is potable drinking water, electricity, roads, employment, quality education/educational facilities, resource control, participation in the oil business and inclusive government that will engender substantial freedom.
“The reverse has been the case: from Oloibiri, Brass LNLG and export terminals in Bayelsa; Bonny LNLG and export terminals in Rivers State; ExxonMobil in Akwa Ibom; Escravos EGTL/ Tankfarm and export terminals; Forcados Tankfarm and export terminals in Delta State operated respectively by Anglo-Dutch Shell, Chevron/Texaco Overseas, Agip ENI, ExxonMobil.
Communal life and terror of poverty
“The history of our communal lives is terror of poverty, inhumanity and desolate living conditions. However, when you move into these facilities operated by the multinational oil corporations, they are living like Kings and Presidents.
“For over five decades, we had given multinational oil corporations and their collaborator, the Nigerian state peace, cooperation and love for the crude oil to flow unhindered from our land.
“The continuous tranquility is only manifesting in the development of mountains, rock, valleys, deserts and lagoon, but the Niger Delta territory continually alienated from all types of development and all essence of quality human life, while all successive governments worship the crude oil taken from the region. Our communities and the people are only good at securing the pipelines, oil and gas facilities.
“We are calling on the international community, especially Britain, France, the United States of America, Russia, China and European Union to speak up against this ongoing terror and come to the aid of the Niger Delta, as witnesses to this grave inhumanity and history of terror perpetuated against the people of the Niger Delta daily.
“This history of terror, we the Niger Delta Avengers will resist and correct with every means necessary. We have nothing to lose in the battles ahead; justice, they say is only found within the structure of a nation state.
“Rather than provide this justice the Nigerian government has decided to mobilize her military might to intimidate, torture, maim, victimize and bombard a section of the nation state and her citizenry to allow the free flow of our oil.
“Some persons, groups, and commentators may ask what the people of Niger Delta want? We are not like some of these personalities who run champagne parties or turn Rivers State Government House into a house patrimony of godsons. They say the progress and success of a nation state is the reflection of her constitution that is not manufactured to favour some section and excludes the yearnings and aspirations of others; but the indwelling spiritual and historical development of its people.”
Stakeholders insist on dialogue
On its part, Mulade, said: “We commend the Federal Government for initiating the ceasefire in the creeks of Delta State after months of military onslaught against rampaging Niger Delta Avengers, NDA.
“It is a welcome development, but government should not politicize the dialogue to be led by the National Security Advisers, critical stakeholders from the core oil producing communities should be included in the process, otherwise the impact would not trickle down to the grassroots,” the group said.
Sensible decision— Okorotie
Ex-Chief Whip in the Rivers State House of Assembly and chairman, Bayelsa Development Forum, Chief T.KO Okorotie, said: “As far as I am concerned, it is a welcome development because the region has been under siege and it’s been a difficult situation. We have all been apprehensive for a long time now because we cannot afford any war at this time.”
Dialogue with Avengers ’ll fail— Emami
Chief Emami, however, said: “Dialogue will not work because the issue of criminality has not been separated, which is why they are emboldened to act the way they are acting.
“Criminals must be treated like criminals, I hear the position of governors of the South-South, excluding Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State is that corruption charges be dropped across the region, particularly those on EFCC wanted list, if that is the case, how will the criminality stop.?”
Avengers threatm empty— Akpodoro
National President of the National Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-Agitators, Israel Akpodoro, who the Niger Delta Avengers had threatened to kill, some days ago, maintained, yesterday, that no group could hold him to ransom.
Tompolo has not fled anywhere
On the report by the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, JNDLF, that former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, a.k.a Tompolo, has fled the country, the Urhobo-born ex-war lord, said: “Such deliberate falsehood is meant to mislead the Nigerian people and for the law enforcement agencies to divert attention from the Gbaramatu -born militant.
“Tompolo is still in the country. This kind of falsehood was circulated when the former President Olusegun Obasanjo led government declared him wanted whereas Tompolo was in Agbarho all through that time while a section of the Nigerian media was used to spread falsehood on his whereabouts.”