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Advocating Peace To End Militancy In Niger Delta

A cross section of Niger Delta militants
Posted: Nov 26, 2016 at 7:45 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

OUR CORREESPONDENTS — The Presidency recently held a meeting with the Niger Delta leaders over the planned dialogue to resolve the crisis in the region. During the meeting, the stakeholders presented a 16-point agenda to the government on how to resolve the crisis. The agenda is supposed to provide the key to the proposed dialogue.

But, soon after the meeting, some groups in the region seem not happy with the outcome of the meeting, even as some militants have continued in their selective attacks on oil installation, adding to the economic crisis in the nation.

With this continued attack by the militants and the overwhelming presence of the military in the region, observers are wondering what should be the way forward for peace in the troubled region, which is the nation’s cash cow.

Massive physical infrastructural development across the region needed

Mr. Martins Edema, a youth activist and self-employed graduate, believes that only massive physical infrastructural development across the region can solve the problem of restiveness in the Niger Delta.

He posited that such solution must be drastic measures and actions for a chronic ailment knowing that the federal and state government have over the years design various ways to curb this incessant unrest in the region where militancy has become a profitable business to the detriment of all.

He said there should be a signed Memorandum of Association (MoU) between the federal, state governments as well as the various community leaders, stakeholders, indigenous contractors and oil majors on acceptable ways of project execution without let or hindrances of any kind through unwarranted demands and molestations, harassment and kidnapping of workers, be him black or white.

Edema stated: “All projects and its contractors must be made to engage community youths for jobs in their areas of jurisdiction and contractors made to sign undertaking of job execution to specification and payment according to mileage covered including time lime to all jobs awarded. Indeed, laws must be enacted to make it a capital offence for anyone or group to disrupt job execution with security agents readily on hand to effect arrest at job site.

“It is not a bad idea also if the traditional rulers and leaders of any troublesome community is taken-in by the government for questioning in any case of breach of the peace after all have agreed on how a job would be successfully executed. In fact, it is now common knowledge that it is not business as usual in the country.

“Jobs should be awarded with a chain of effective supervisory organs like Non-governmental bodies who gives detail weekly or monthly progress report on mileage covered and challenges.

“Whether political patronage is there or not, contracts must be awarded only to competent contractors who might even pass through an indigenous but incompetent contractor without the technical and financial muscle for the kind of job to be executed.

“All these put together with the interest of the youths properly taken into consideration would gradually but surely bring the Niger Delta crisis to a end because the vibrant youth population would have been empowered one way or the other and given a sense of belonging.”

There Should Be Accountable ?Leaders in the Niger Delta

An All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in Akwa Ibom State, has suggested need for transparency, honesty, accountability and a community serving spirit among Niger Delta leaders if crisis in the region must be addressed.

The APC chief who preferred anonymity said that no amount of financial intervention can address crisis in the Niger Delta region if leaders do not have the best interest of the people at heart, adding that the prolonged crisis in the region could only be traced to corrupt leaders since 60s.

The party leader, who opined that the quality of leaders to represent the people must be checked before any intervention program is further instituted in the region, said since the constitution does not empower the federal government to personally execute intervention programs, then political leaders within the region must be men and women of proven integrity.

His words: “The biggest problem of the Niger Delta is the quality of leadership the region has had since 1967. Today, if we were fortunate to have been blessed with a crop of transparent and sincere leaders even from 1999?, I don’t think we would have had this level of poverty in the region.

“The infrastructural and environmental decay in the region can only be traced to corrupt leaders, we have to make them accountable to the people because whatever solution the federal ?government may proffer today would still boil down to naira and kobo and with corrupt leaders you can’t have anything good out of it.”

He challenged the south southerners to ask their leaders to explain how they have utilised the 13percent derivation funds received by states in the region since 2001 and how various NDDC interventions have been implemented and in whose interest within the region.

“What have we been doing with the 13percent derivation? What have we been doing with all the NDDC interventions? All the monies pumped into NDDC, how have the leaders of the region been using it? Since the Niger Delta ministry was established, how have we been utilising the funds”.

“Until we ensure that all the resources and all the monies received from the federation account are channeled for the well-being of the people, there is nothing the federal government can do”.

There is no alternative to dialogue

Usman Jinjiri, a public affair analyst said: “I am aware the peace meeting between the FG and Niger Delta stakeholders going on the precipice.

“But that is not surprising because the people no longer trust the government to protect them and their future and that goes a long way to show that Nigerians are fast losing confidence in the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.

“Having said that, I still believe the parties should still discuss on how to find lasting solutions to the Niger Delta crisis, the earlier the better.

“There is no alternative to dialogue. Whatever cannot be achieved through dialogue can never be achieved through violence and shedding of innocent blood and that is why I am of the view that the federal government should still employ dialogue in finding a permanent solution the Niger Delta crisis. “Basically, there is huge distrust on the part of the federal government, leaders of the Niger Delta region, the agitators and again the entire people of the area for obvious reasons.

“It is also clear that when things gets to this level a lot of politics is also involved and I am not ruling out political undertone to the agitations and that to me is largely the reason (s) why ending the agitations is not in sight.

“Everything that has a beginning must have an end and that is why I strongly suggest that the government look beyond those representatives of the region and the agitators in bringing about lasting solution to the south-south agitations.

“I am aware that part of their grouse is centred on monies some of their leaders allegedly collected in the past for the development of the area which only the leaders can attest to what the monies were expended on, so the federal government should look beyond what ordinary Nigerians are seeing to end the agitations but whoever is mediating should not fail to make it clear to the agitators that the common wealth of Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians.”

Alhaji Waheed Lawal, the Executive Secretary of Justice Now Foundation (JNF), a socio-political group, based in Osun State, noted that military option is not the solution to restore sanity in the area, but dialogues.

He explained that all the demands of the Niger Delta militants and their leaders must be looked into and addressed for peace to reign in the area.