Applauded FG peaceful option to engage Avengers
Says negotiating with Avengers alone would not end agitation in the region
From Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
Niger Delta youths have applauded the Federal government dialogue option with Niger Delta Avengers but noted that negotiating with the militant group alone would not address the challenges facing the people of the region.
The youths in their separate reactions yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, said the negotiation table must not be surrounded by Avengers alone but should include critical stakeholders, youths and community leaders in the region.
It would be recalled that the Niger Delta Avengers have claimed responsibility of several attacks on the oil facilities in the region and recently the Federal government pleaded for cease fire, thereby opening the door for negotiation.
The Secretary General of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Comrade Bristol Alagbariya Emmanuel said he welcomes the Federal government plan to negotiate with Niger Delta Avengers to end the developmental challenges of the region which he noted was as a result of deceit, neglect, injustice and lack of equity to the people of Niger Delta.
He said the biggest mistake the Federal government would make is to negotiate with the Avengers without putting into consideration the chunk of unemployed youths, the Niger Delta environment and the developmental challenges facing the region.
Alagbariya said: “Niger Delta Avengers have no geographical location, they don’t have a community. They are just a group of armed youths who are agitating for the people of Niger Delta region. If the Federal government negotiates with them without involving the people of the region, another group will surface.
“One thing is clear; negotiating with Avengers alone cannot end agitation in the region. Before now MEND championed this cause but today where is MEND? So if you settle a group of armed youths as a way of making peace in the region, it would be a waste of time and resources untill the real issues are addressed.”
Comrade Prince Amatari Bipeledei, President, Aggrieved Niger Delta Youth (ANDY) said dialoging with Niger Delta Avengers is the best option to apply by the Federal government in the fight to end militancy in the region.
He expressed uncertainty of the Federal government to achieve the objective for which the dialogue Would be initiated, stressing that the Amnesty programme failed because some certain politicians hijacked the process.
He reminded the Federal government to consider the grassroots development of the region where he alleged that people are dying on daily basis due to abject poverty, suffering and lack of basic amenities in their various communities.
Bipeledei said: “The Federal government peace dialogue option should go beyond Avengers. There are unemployed youths in the region who have disassociated themselves from violence. There are communities in the region that has no light, road and water, is government also considering their plights?
Comrade Tari Victor Ben, leader, Eye of Niger Delta (END) who recently led a protest against the attack on oil facilities in the region said he appreciates the Federal government efforts to dialogue with the Avengers but added that he doesn’t believe that the option would solve the challenges facing the region.
He said his group is suggesting a lasting solution which is to drag the Federal government before the International Court where verdict and compensation would be awarded to the region over the injustice against the Niger Delta people and their environment.
Ben said: “As a group we welcome the peace process because without peace there will be no development. But will there be peace without equal right and justice. How genuine is the peace process with Avengers. Apart from the stakeholders in the region international community must be part of the negotiation.
“We as Niger Deltas must think beyond using arms to solve our problem, nobody is talking of resource control or derivation increase from 13% to 50% what we are talking is disarming and empowering militant groups which has nothing to do with the problem of the region.”