WHY NEGOTIATIONS WITH NIGER DELTA IS DRAGGING BY FG

WARRI— THE  Federal Government is waiting for reports from the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major General Mohammed Monguno (retd.); service chiefs and other top government officials mandated to interface with militant groups and other stakeholders in Niger Delta, before commencing the much awaited dialogue.

This came on a day Niger Delta Greenland Justice Movement, NDGJM, an Urhobo militant group, blew up the Ogor-Oteri major delivery line operated by Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, and Shorelines Petroleum and served a notice to also bomb Warri and Port Harcourt refineries as well as Utorogu Gas Plant. Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, confirmed to Vanguard on phone, yesterday:  “The President has charged some people with engaging the various militant groups, and now that they are waiving the white flag, there will definitely be formal talks. “But before that, the NSA, service chiefs and all those involved need to bring their reports, they will be assessed before dialogue will kick-off,” he said.

Investigation by Vanguard showed that the Presidency was aware of the success of the consultative meeting of the Niger Delta monarchs, elders and stakeholders in Effurun, near Warri, Delta State on August 19, following which the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, declared an unannounced ceasefire. Militants vs Buhari The government was also conscious that the NDA had given the pan-Niger Delta group, led by Chief Edwin Clark, the authority to represent it in talks with government.

Presidency contacts Clark

Chief Clark told the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, one of the top officials involved in the interface, last Friday, in Warri, that soon after the NDA heeded the advice of Niger Delta monarchs and leaders to stop bombing oil pipelines, the Chief of Staff to the President got in touch with him to congratulate the leaders for a job well done. He said the Chief of Staff told him that President Muhammadu Buhari was prepared to receive the leaders whenever they were ready. “Our governor here, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, was also contacted by the Villa and he called to tell me that he had been asked to facilitate our visit when we are ready,” Clark said. He told Kachikwu that as a worthy son of the region, he should liaise with Governor Okowa to fix a date for the Niger Delta leaders to formally meet and brief President Buhari on the meeting and other necessary things to achieve peace in the region.

Pan-Niger-Delta group garners more support

While preparations are on for an initial meeting to brief the President, the leaders are also fine-tuning arrangement to ensure that representatives of all the ethnic nationalities in the region were involved. The acceptability of the pan-Niger Delta group, which the leaders established to drive the dialogue and negotiations, was further bolstered when the NDA handed a power of attorney to the leaders to represent it.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, also surrendered leadership of the process to Niger Delta leaders and formally disbanded its Aaron Team 2, led by Odein Ajumogobia, during the week. Other militant groups, including the Reformed Egbesu Fraternity, Ultimate Warriors of Niger Delta and Adaka Boro Avengers, have also declared their support for the pan-Niger Delta group.

Suspicion

What, however, raised fears in the minds of Niger Delta leaders was the commencement of “Operation Crocodile Smile” in the region by the military at the time the people were expecting government to put in place a template for dialogue. The leaders were as at ,yesterday, cautiously watching President Buhari to know whether he actually wanted peace or otherwise, especially following his recent threats in Nairobi, Kenya, to give militants in the region the Boko Haram treatment.

NDGM still on rampage

Findings by Vanguard showed the only militant group still on the rampage at the moment was the Niger Delta Greenland Mandate, NDGM,  an Urhobo militant group in Delta State, which in the early hours of yesterday, blew up another oil facility in the state. A dependable source said: “Chief Clark sent some Urhobo leaders to reach out to the leaders of the militant group before he left Warri for Abuja at the weekend, but the group is still playing hard to get.” Clark/Ijaw monarchs’ row resolved Beside the NDGM, another knotty matter in the unity of Niger Delta leaders was the skirmish that erupted, last week, between Chief Clark and some Ijaw monarchs over the attack on them by the former Federal Commissioner for Information for visiting Kachikwu in Abuja after the Effurun consultative meeting without his mandate and consent of other ethnic nationalities. It was a troubling development, as the monarchs slammed the Ijaw national leader, declaring that they were not answerable to him. They noted that there had been other negotiations before the Effurun meeting convened by Clark, and were, therefore, not answerable to him in their search for peace in the region.

However, a group, led by the former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo; former Supreme Court judge, Justice Francis Tabai; Mr Olisa Imegwu, Prince Maikpobi Okareme, Dr. Efiong Edunamn (Akwa Ibom),  Prof G G Darah and Comrade Japhet Ogbueri (Rivers), intervened and resolved the impasse, yesterday. Bozimo told Vanguard:  “We are happy to announce that the misunderstanding between our South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark, and some Ijaw traditional rulers has been amicably resolved.” Contacted on phone, one of the Ijaw monarchs, HRM King I.  Timiyan  (JP), Ebenanaowei of  Ogulagha  Kingdom, confirmed that the matter had been laid to rest.

“People like Bozimo, Tabai and others appealed to us, we are royal fathers, and we cannot allow our anger to go wild. “So, we have accepted Chief Clark, he is our subject, and we cannot say that because of what happened, he is no longer our subject. “We have forgiven him, what we are interested in now is how to move forward and let peace reign in Niger Delta,” he said. The Bolowei of Gbaramatu kingdom and former chairman of Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, Chief Wellington Okirika, who represented Gbaramatu kingdom at the Abuja meeting, also said: “Yes, the matter has been resolved, we have to move forward.”
Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/08/why-were-yet-to-dialogue-with-militants-presidency/

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