Militants to Buhari: We’re not aware of your peace talks

THERE was misapprehension yesterday over
the statement from President Muhammadu
Buhari on Thursday that the Federal
Government was holding dialogue with
militants in the Niger Delta region to end
pipeline bombings as the foremost militant
group, Niger Delta Avengers, NDA and other
groups denied such talks. The bombings
have devastated the economy.
President Buhari, while speaking with the
outgoing Ambassador of Germany to Nigeria,
Mr. Michael Zinner, at the Presidential Villa,
Abuja, confirmed that government was in
dialogue with Niger Delta militants towards
putting a stop to pipeline vandalism and
violence in the region. He said the
negotiations were done through oil
companies and law enforcement agencies.
Besides the militants, former national
chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil
Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria,
TROMPCON and paramount ruler of Siembiri
Kingdom, Delta State, HRM Charles Ayemi-
Botu and the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, said it
was disappointing for the government to say
that oil companies and security agents were
the ones engaged in the negotiation.
However, the Centre for Peace and
Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, welcomed
what it said seemed like a volte face on
dialogue by President Buhari but urged the
President to engage critical stakeholders of
the region, and not just militants.
FG talking to mercenaries – Avengers
Niger Delta Avengers in a swift reaction to
President Buhari's statement that
government was talking to Niger Delta
militants through the oil companies and
security agencies, said: "Our attention has
been drawn to media reports that the
President is in touch with Niger Delta
agitators, including the Niger Delta Avengers.
But the truth is that we are not aware of any
peace talk."
Their spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo who
issued the statement, said, "If there is any
such peace talk, it means the President is
talking to their mercenaries set to disturb the
genuine struggle of the agitators. President
Buhari led government is not sincere to the
Nigerian people and their foreign allies".
According to NDA, "If we are to engage in
any peace talks, we made it clear that the
international community must be part of it.
The President knows our demands. Therefore,
the government should stop deceiving the
international oil companies, the general
public and the international community."
Stop the joke-Ayemi- Botu
Responding to Buhari's declaration, HRM
Ayemi-Botu said: "The statement credited to
President Buhari to the outgoing German
Ambassador that 'we are talking with the
militants' as widely published in the
electronic and print media gave us some
hope and temporary relief ."
"But the fact that Mr. President further stated
that it is the security agencies and
multinational oil companies that are doing
the talking or negotiating with the militants,
while the militants on the other hand stated
that government was not talking with them,
gives me cause for worry. More so, they blew
up a PPMC pipeline some days ago,"
The monarch said, "it sounds like a cat and
mouse game because security men are
hunting for them up till Thursday in Warri.
So, how can they be discussing. Militants
cannot negotiate with security agents. Or is it
the oil companies which the militants have
asked to stop operating and quit their areas
of operations that are dialoguing with the
militants, "the royal father asked.
He asserted: "My candid appeal to Buhari is
to take the bull by the horns and emulate late
President Umaru Yar' Adua to appoint
prominent personalities, including traditional
rulers, opinion leaders and chiefs to dialogue
on the protracted Niger Delta issues with a
view to having lasting solution.
"Apparently, a situation whereby the
President is telling the world that security
agents and oil companies are delegated or
mandated to dialogue with the militants may
not work. We should call a spade, a spade,"
he said.
President's advisers should advise him well-
IYC
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, in a
statement by its spokesperson, Mr. Eric
Omare, said: "The government should stop
deceiving Nigerians and the international
community about talks with Niger Delta
militants on how to stop attacks on oil
facilities in the Niger Delta region."
"It may not be right for the President to say
that his government is negotiating with Niger
Delta militants through oil companies and
law enforcement agencies during the farewell
audience with Mr. Michael Zinner, the
outgoing Ambassador to Germany on
Thursday, the 21st of July, 2016.
"It is even embarrassing for the President of
an independent nation such as Nigeria to say
that it is oil companies that are negotiating
for peace with Niger Delta agitators, which in
effect amounts to surrendering a lot to
international oil companies," the council said.
It added: "The IYC wonders if Nigeria is back
to pre-colonial and independence Royal Niger
Company days where international
companies govern Nigeria. The point must be
made that the issues at stake are completely
beyond the capacity of oil companies to
resolve."
"For the umpteenth time, the IYC call on the
aides and advisers of President Buhari to
properly advise him on how to solve the
current hostilities in the Niger Delta region
and equally display a determination to
resolve the problem as his predecessors did.
"Only a sincere and holistic dialogue with the
people of the Niger Delta region which is
aimed at addressing the remote causes of
recurrent militancy can bring permanent
peace to the Niger Delta region. This can only
happen when President Buhari as the political
leader of Nigeria come down to the
negotiation table," IYC said.
Avoid jamboree- CEPEJ
Speaking through its national coordinator,
Sheriff Mulade, CEPEJ, thumbed up the
federal government for going ahead with the
peace talks, but cautioned against "engaging
the militants alone in the peace parley."
"We suggest that critical stakeholders should
be identified and engaged by the government,
otherwise government would create more
rooms for other pseudo militant groups to
emerge.
"CEPEJ wants the government to hold town
meetings with the communities and address
their social problems and also talk to the oil
firms, and find out their relationships with the
communities. The engagement should be
more comprehensive, beyond the militants.
''If the government wants to truly resolve the
issues, it should involve critical leaders and
not political stakeholders; otherwise it will be
another jamboree and failed attempts. The
fundamental issues are clear: the people of
the Niger Delta need development and
remediation of their environment, which has
been devastated by years of oil and gas
exploration and exploitative activities," the
group said.
It added: ''the politicians are the beneficiaries
of the system. When they are fraternizing
with the militants on one hand, they want to
end militancy on the other. That is why we
said the government should not make it a
political talk; rather Niger Delta stakeholders
at the grass-roots should be involved,"
The NGO condemns in strongest terms the
continued bombings of oil and gas
installations by the rampaging Niger Delta
Avengers (NDA) after a lull in their nefarious
activities, saying that the renewed bombings
have affected the gains recorded in recent
weeks, and caused more damage to the
environment, the only heritage of the people.
"The Center is of the opinion that the
continued bombings of oil and gas facilities
were not doing the region any good, rather
they were adversely affecting the environment
and slowing down the economy.
"We reiterate our appeal to militants in the
Niger Delta to sheathe their swords and allow
peace to reign as no development can take
place in an environment wrecked by conflicts
and environmental degradation," CEPEJ
stated.
What Buhari said
The President , who gave the confirmation of
dialogue with militants through the Senior
Special Assistant on Media and Publicity,
Garba Shehu, while granting farewell
audience to the outgoing Ambassador of
Germany to Nigeria, Mr. Michael Zinner, at
the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the talks
were being done through oil companies and
law-enforcement agencies and was aimed at
finding lasting solution to insecurity in the
region.
He also said that his administration was
studying the instruments of the Presidential
Amnesty Programme inherited from the
previous administration with a view to
carrying out commitments made that were
undelivered.
"We understand their feelings, we are
studying the instruments, we have to secure
the environment otherwise investment will not
come. We will do our best for the country,"
Shehu quoted the President as saying.

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