THE Federal Government has reportedly started dialogue at Abuja with Niger- Delta stakeholders and militants, who, last week, gave it a 21-day ultimatum to recommence hostilities, if government refused to quickly address the demands by #EndSARS protesters and additional 11-point demand by the agitators.
The talks were convened by the Deputy President of Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who is expected to convey the complaints of the stakeholders and militants to President Muhammadu Buhari and brief him on the outcome.
Senator Omo-Agege, who spoke to Vanguard on phone, confirmed his meeting with the stakeholders.
However, there were intrigues, after the meeting, as the militants, at an emergency meeting in the creek, presided over by the leader and commanding officer of Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, a collation of nine militant groups spread across the region, self-styled “Major General” Johnmark Ezonebi, attended by all unit commanders, disowned all serving Ministers from the region.
Senator Omo-Agege, evidently oblivious of the rejection of the minsters by militants, said: “We are just coming out the challenges posed by the EndSARS protests, it is my obligation as the Deputy Senate President and currently, the highest political office holder from Niger Delta to ensure that there was no breach of peace in my area, especially as militants had threatened to resume hostilities.”
“I see it as my obligation to plead with all stakeholders of the region to ensure that there is peace in the Niger Delta.
“Yes, a delegation led by Chief Okirika and Dr. Emuh, leader of Host Communities of Nigeria and other leaders reached out to me and we held a meeting with several reports and demands they pleaded with me to pass on to government. And I told them that I will convey their positions,” he said.
Speaking to Vanguard, the militants vowed through their leader, Ezonebi, that they would not be part of any dialogue initiated by Niger Delta ministers and would, instead, go ahead with their initial plan to stop oil production if the federal government gives ears to their antics.
He stated: “Deputy Senate president, who is the number five citizen in the country and also the political leader of Niger Delta, being the highest political office holder from the region met with a delegation of stakeholders, including representatives of the dreaded RNDA militant group in Abuja.”
“The delegation was headed by Chief Wellington Okrika, a highly respected chief from Gbaramatu kingdom, one- time Chairman of Delta State Oil producing Development Commission, front liner in the agitation for the development of the Niger Delta region and one of the leaders that fought hard for the establishment of 13 per cent derivation Act in the former Head of State, late Gen Sani Abacha era to the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasenjo.
“Also among the delegation was the national chairman of Host Communities of Nigeria, Dr. Prince Mike Emuh and Hon Prince Jude Tabai, son of a retired Supreme Court judge in the country, who sacrificed his life to come down to the creek in the year 2016 in company of former Minister of Sports, Barr Solomon Dalong with the former GGM Security at the NNPC Towers, Sam Otobueze, which led to the pronouncement of the ceasefire agreement entered with the federal government,” he said.
According to RNDA leader, ” Deputy Senate President has kick- started the dialogue process on behalf of the Federal Government already, therefore, the presidency should ignore caricature people, deceitfully organizing another planned stakeholders’ dialogue team that will be spearheaded by self-centered, selfish, inhuman and greedy ministers from the Niger Delta region.”
His words: “The RNDA want to ask a question, where were the so- called ministers from the region when Senator James Ovie Omo- Agege, the Deputy Senate president took out time to reach out to the leaders and the representatives of the dreaded RNDA and militant groups in the creek and engaged them for a dialogue process in other to persuade them on the need to maintain and sustained the existing peace in the creek.”
“The Deputy Senate president promised to convey our grievances and demands to President Muhammadu Buhari , who is ready to address the immediate demands laid down by the dreaded RNDA militant group in the creek.
“And the Deputy Senate president assured the delegation that President Muhammadu Buhari is ready to address the underdevelopment challenges confronting the people of the region.
“He re assured the delegation that he will make sure the demands of the RNDA will be looked into and will come up with speedy implementation for the purpose of peace and to enable them maintain and sustain the existing peace in the creek of the region.
“Therefore, RNDA, with the coalition of the nine militant groups in the creek call on the federal government and the presidency not to enter into any dialogue organized by the so -called inhuman, wicked, greedy, self-centered and selfish ministers from the region, who want to use this medium to grab millions of dollars for themselves in their normal usual method to make themselves popular before President Muhammadu Buhari and the presidency.
“The ministers were appointed by Mr. President to enable them reach out to their constituencies and address the plight of the people of the region, which is their primary assignment, but it is now obvious that these ministers are just there for themselves and their families with their cronies and they continue to perambulate around without reaching out to the people of the region and they have failed woefully in their primary assignment so far.
“RNDA warns that if the federal government and the presidency enter into any form of dialogue with this greedy, self- centered ministers from the region, we will go ahead to resume hostilities and embark on bringing down the production of crude oil to standstill in the creek.
“Meanwhile, RNDA states that the 21 -day ultimatum given to the federal government is still counting until the dialogue team kick -started by the Deputy Senate President on behalf of the federal government and the presidency come with a speedy implementation of the demands submitted to the federal government by the RNDA.
“On this note, RNDA wishes to state categorically that the only dialogue team recognized by it is the dialogue team kick- started by the Deputy Senate president, spearheaded High Chief Okrika, Emuh and others.
“RNDA warns seriously that if the dialogue team headed by Chief Okrika is found wanting, that is seizing this opportunity to acquire wealth and bid for contracts for themselves from the federal government, we will come after them and their children and families, and their acquired wealth of properties will not be spared.
“To this end, RNDA urges the deputy Senate president to use his highly exalted office as the number five citizen of the country and as the political leader of the Niger Delta region to prevail on the federal government and the presidency to speedily implement the demands by the RNDA and come out with a blueprint that will better the fortune and lives of the people in the Niger- Delta region to enable the emancipated , neglected oil producing community people from the region build trust and confidence on him and to write his name in gold as far as the development of the region is concerned,” he added.
Chief Okirika also confirmed to Vanguard that he led some stakeholders to Abuja, saying: “We met with Deputy Senate President over the 11-point demand by militants.”
“We informed him of the challenges in Niger Delta, the demands are not new, it is not because of the EndSARS crisis that the militants came up with the demands, they have been there in Niger Delta waiting for attention,” he said.
Chief Okirika said deputy senate president would convey the position of the stakeholders to President Buhari.