By Emma Amanze, Warri
THE Aaron team, a group of negotiators, led by the former Chief of General Staff , Vice Admiral Okhai Mike Akhigbe (rtd), set up by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND) to dialogue with the Federal GovernmentÂ with a view to bringing the Niger-Delta crisis to an acceptable end has called for suggestions and advice from Niger-Deltans, Nigerians and friends of NigeriaÂ towardsÂ proper execution of the assignment.Â
It has also opened a website, www.the aaronteam.org for Nigerians to send in their support,Â contributions, comments and questions to the group.
The group, comprising Akhigbe, Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, Major General Luke Kakadu Aprezi (rtd) , Dr. Sabella Ogbobode Abidde, PhD, Mr. Amagbe Denzel Kentebe met with President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua at Aso Villa before he took ill and was flown to Saudi Arabia for treatment. Assumed leader of MEND, Henry Okah and ex-militant leader, Farah Dagogo also attended the meeting.
The discussion was held in a friendly atmosphere and both sides ageed to meet again for further dialogue. Tentatively, President Yarâ€™Adua assured the team that he would undertake a tour of the Niger-Delta to see things for himself and urged the team to cooperate with other stakeholders in the bid to entrench peace in the region. The meeting was largely exploratory but the team maintained that the way forward was true federalism.
Vice-Admiral Akhigbe in a message to Nigerians on the website stated, â€œAs you are all aware, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has put together a team of well meaning Nigerians called the Aaron Team, to dialogue with the Federal Government in order to find lasting solutions to the problems plaguing the Niger Deltaâ€.
â€œThe Team hopes to use this website as a means through which Niger Deltans, Nigerians, and Friends of Nigeria, can contribute to and follow the process.
â€œAs much as we cannot address each individual comment or question, please know that we will do our best to keep you abreast of the dynamics of our dialogue.We are committed to working with the Federal Government of Nigeria to identify lasting solutions to the problems plaguing the Niger Deltaâ€, he stated.
It was learnt that the Aaron Advisory Assembly would be responsible for collecting and collating positions , which the team coulld use in negotiations with the Federal Government.
The Aaron Advisory Board will also be set up to combine and summarize positions that will support the push for the implementation of full fiscal federalism,Â which is the goal of MEND.