By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa — Troubled by the fate that befell Gbaramatu kingdom and other Ijaw communities at the height of youth militancy in the country, the Bayelsa Conciliators Forum, has expressed concern over the recent escalating tension in the creeks of the Niger Delta in the wake of the alleged re-emergence of some militants’ groupd in the region.
The forum said the region cannot afford to drift into another orgy of violence, especially with the recent return of peace.
Chairman of the group, Chief Thompson Okorotie, who spoke in Yenagoa, called on the youths to give peace a chance, especially with the conscious effort being made by government to tackle the problem of development in the region.
His appeal is coming on the heels of the current campaign by the Joint Task Force to rid the region of re-emerging militants’ groups.
“We want to appeal to our children to ensure that they do not return to the past that had brought so much destruction of lives and property in the recent past. Clearly, we are seeing that some Niger Delta agitators are flexing muscles violently and attacking oil installations, leading to loses as it were,” he said.
The Federal Government and security forces are talking tough.
“This is a similar situation that characterized the environment when Niger Delta agitators were uprooted in Delta State from their different camps by the Joint Task Force with all its might resulting in the deaths of hundreds of our people in the Niger Delta and those alive rendered homeless, hungry and deceased. We are not sure these problems have been totally solved.
“This is therefore an appeal to ex militants to prefer dialogue to violence in making their demands. We must remember at all times that when we make our demands with violence, the little development that we already have is depleted. This cannot be a sensible way to asking for development.
“On the other hand, the Federal Government should ensure that whichever department is responsible for implementing the different aspect of the amnesty programme should do so with efficiency and transparency.”
Wondering why the Ijaw youths would want to tow the path of violence at a time dialogue is being championed as the best form of conflict resolution, the former Special Adviser to erstwhile Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha said, “Violence at the beginning was justifiable because hitherto no government listened to our cries.
We have now made our points. We have been listened to and there is an amnesty programme that is running. Any hiccup in the process of implementation of this laudable programme should best be corrected through negotiation.”