Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has said that it will not be involved in any form of dialogue with the Office of the National Security Adviser on issues concerning the challenges in the Niger Delta region.
MEND explained in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, that though it had selected an Aaron team that would speak with the Federal Government on the regions development, it was not ready to hold talks with a body that lacked executive power.
The militant group said on Saturday that the Niger Delta issue was on the exclusive legislative list, adding that the proposed dialogue was not expected to be an interrogatory session.
It listed the names in the said Aaron team as Henry Odein Ajumogobia, (Rivers), team leader; Bismark Jemide Rewane (Delta), waiting re-confirmation; Senator Florence Ita-Giwa (Cross River); and High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Delta) – awaiting confirmation.
Others recommended to be part of the team are Ledum Mitee, (Rivers); Lawson Omokhodion (Edo); Ibanga Isine (Akwa Ibom); Senator Adolphus Wabara (Abia); Alfred Isename (Edo); and Timipa Jenkins Okponipere, Esq. (Bayelsa), team secretary.
MEND said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the MEND Aaron team shall hold a dialogue with the NSA given that the office of the NSA lacks executive power.
“Given also the fact that the root issues surrounding the Niger Delta question are on the exclusive legislative list. Also, for the fact that the proposed dialogue is not an interrogatory session.
“We therefore hope that the Federal Government shall reach out to the Aaron Team Leader, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, to signal government intention to commence the dialogue. If after two weeks from the date of publication of this Right of Reply, we don’t hear from the Federal Government, MEND shall safely assume that the government is truly not sincere about the dialogue on the Niger Delta question and responds only to the threat of violence or industrial action.”
It also criticised the Senior Special Adviser Assistant to President Muhammad Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, for his article titled ‘President Buhari Sharpens Focus on Niger Delta.
According to MEND, “Mr. Shehu’s piece was unfortunately marred by sweeping assumptions; hasty generalisation; illogicality and poor analysis of the Niger Delta question. Above all, the article merely provided lame excuses for government’s inability to proffer sustainable solutions to the Niger Delta crisis.
“It was tactless of Mr. Shehu to arrive at a conclusion in his article that Niger Delta militants were behind the killings of prominent individuals and attacks on some coastal communities in Lagos and Ogun states.”
Meanwhile, some prominent elders and traditional rulers in Bayelsa State have alleged that some of the aides of President Buhari are frustrating the Federal Government’s proposed dialogue with the Niger Delta Avengers.
Though the elders and the monarchs commended the President’s decision to lead the proposed dialogue, they expressed concern over the alleged show of deceit, insincerity and discordant tunes among the presidential aides from the region.
They claimed the development had created a huge doubt between the militant youths and the Federal Government.
The position of the concerned elders and monarchs, under the aegis of Bayelsa Elders for Progress, Peace and Good Governance, led by their Coordinator, Chief Ayibatonye Goodnews, and the Secretary, Chief Lucky Ebifaghe, is contained in an open letter to the President.
They declared that the recent activities of key aides from the region such as the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, and the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh (retd.), were allegedly frustrating the peace efforts of the Federal Government.
They insisted that Buhari should investigate the sincerity of the purported meetings held between Boroh and Kachikwu.
The letter stated, “How can they claim to have met stakeholders and the militant attacks continue? They met some fake militants and stakeholders and wasted scarce resources of the Federal Government on jamboree.
“The amnesty boss, who claimed to have relocated to the creeks in the region, was only sighted in a certain community holding clandestine meetings without solution to the continued bombing of the oil and gas facilities.
“Buhari should investigate the money expended on the jamboree without result. We insist that the Presidential Amnesty Office should be probed following the alleged meeting with fake Avengers.”