MEMBERS of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) have agreed to work with elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark and his team of stakeholders from the Niger Delta region to initiate dialogue against the backdrop of insurgency.
Secretary of MEND, Mr Timipa Jenkins Okponipere made the disclosure on Friday at a meeting in Clark’s house in Warri, Delta State.
The group, however, made six demands for a harmonious work with the Clark’s dialogue team.
It agreed that Clark be leader of the group, all dialogues should be centrally located and coordinated and the group should have six leaders of proven integrity from the region.
MEND also requested the secretary slot for its members and also added that the dialogue should be named Niger Delta Peace and Development Group.
Clark, in his response to the request, accepted the request but added its implementation was subject to the approval of other stakeholders.
“From today onwards, you’re part of us, “ the octogenarian noted.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu has said that what the embattled Niger Delta region needs at present is not a ceasefire but a permanent peace.
He said without this being achieved, the $80 billion investment fortune he has raised from China to be pumped into the gas sector might not materialise.
The minister made the disclosure on Friday at the home of elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark during the emergency meeting of Niger Delta Coastal States Stakeholders Group in Warrior, Delta State.
Kachikwu, who spoke emotionally, said President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to solving the present crisis through dialogue.
He, however, asked leaders of the region to ensure they prevail on yourths who are engaged in insurgency and destruction of oil and gas installations.
He added that political leaders from the region would have failed God and the region if they were unable to do something good about the Niger Delta in their lifetime.
Kachikwu also informed the gathering that solutions to the region’s myriad problems, according to a research he has carried out which he promised to make public shortly, included a short and long term ones that’ll transform the entire region if well executed.
Earlier, convener, Chief Edwin Clark, had told the minister to work out a meeting between the stakeholders team and the President to present their wayforward to him.
Clark, whom Kachikwu described as a true nationalist and elder, reiterated the fact that the stakeholders comprised all ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta coastal states in region and therefore should not be seen as a gathering of only Ijaws.
He said some traditional rulers and leaders who visited the Minister on Thursday did so without the stakeholders’ consent and were on their own.
He advised that henceforth, the federal government nay the minister should not receive any delegation from the region if it is not at the instance of the stakeholders group.
Clark apologized to protesting individuals and groups who were aggrieved over the rebellious visit to the minister, expressing excitement that MEND had finally identified with the stakeholders team to foster peace in the region.
Meanwhile, Dr Kachikwu has promised to set up the requested meeting between the President and the stakeholders forum from the region.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw leader, Clark, said the Friday meeting in his house was to clear the air that he was part of the Niger Delta leaders who visited the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, in Abuja on Thursday, where some demands were tabled for a ceasefire to take place in the region.
Clark said he did not send them, neither did he mandate the leaders, among whom were traditional leaders, to visit Abuja or table the stakeholders’ requests to the minister.
It will recalled that MEND had earlier rejected being part of the dialogue team led by Clark under the aegis of Niger Delta Coastal State Stakeholders Group comprising leaders, elders, youths and women from all ethnic nationalities in the region.
This came in spite of the acceptance by the rampaging Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) of the Clark’s stakeholders forum with a promise to halt all hostilities to allow the dialogue process succeed.
The shareholders had issued a communique at the end of the stakeholders meeting last Friday asking all militants to cease fire and requesting the Federal government to commence a dialogue process with genuine leaders of the region in order to halt insecurity.
Meanwhile, the Minster of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, was still being expected at the time of filling this report.