AN Itsekiri body, the Warri Study Group (WSG), has cautioned the Federal Government to be mindful of who to dialogue with during the proposed dialogue to end hostilities of militants in the Niger Delta region.
The caution, according to the group, was necessary as a follow-up to the August 19 meeting of stakeholders of Niger Delta coastal states, held at Effurun and August 25 Abuja interactions between some Ijaw monarchs and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu.
Chairman of the group, Edward Ekpoko and secretary, Tony Ede, chided the various stakeholders pretending to be relevant to the cause of the region.
“Emergence of some traditional rulers, elders and politicians now coalescing into different groups – all pretending to be peace ambassadors or mediators seeking resolution of the Niger Delta Crisis.
“As to be expected, the government appears to be giving listening ears to the so-called leaders/elders, who possibly could have been the architects of the recent violence in the region,” it alleged.
The group recalled in an earlier letter in June, to President Muhammadu Buhari, on the present situation in the region, it had felt that some serving and former governors and cronies were hands-in-gloves with the militants.
It added that today, “WSG had been vindicated after some traditional rulers and elders were said to be aiding and abetting the militants.
“After encouraging the young boys (some of who benefitted from the amnesty programme) to carry arms against their fatherland, sabotaging the national economy, they are re-emerging as peace brokers.
“The problems they are allegedly fighting have not suddenly come up in just one year of the tenure of Buhari. Is it because Buhari is no “brother”?
“Some of these elders and traditional rulers are acting the script of the militants and have only recruited and/or assembled some few innocent ones and/or those willing to be bought outside their ethnic nationalities to give it a semblance of a Niger Delta struggle for better life, conditions and infrastructures,” WSG noted.
On the communique issued by conveners of the recent Effurun stakeholders’ meeting, WSG frowned that it failed to condemn the renewed militancy and was signed only by Chief Edwin Clark and Professor G. G. Darah, both from Delta out of the six coastal states, while also concluding that the Abuja meeting of some Ijaw monarchs with Kachikwu suggested that it is an all Ijaw affair.
The group condemned the criminal activities of the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups in the region, tasking the Federal Government to bring all perpetrators to justice.
According to the group of professionals, “the Federal Government and Nigerians should not be fooled by the double standard and antics of some Niger Delta leaders and militants. Their interests are self centered. The Ijaw agenda does not approximate to that of the Niger Delta.
“The problem of the Niger Delta is more of management of resources allocated than anything else. In spite of the trillions of Naira that have been provided to intervention agencies and ministries over the years, there is nothing on ground to show for it.
“Dr Kachikwu, who appears to be dancing under the Ijaw pressure is supposedly a technocrat. He needs to learn quickly about the history and sensibility of the different ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta, especially Warri Division.”