* True fiscal federation
*Why we struck inÂ lagos
* Never try it again – OPC
By Emma Amaize, Samuel Oyadongha & Wahab Abdullah
THE Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, says its ultimate demand is â€œtrue fiscal federalismâ€, which it insists is the only guarantee for peace in the country.
The group which attacked the strategic Atlas Cove Jetty in Lagos last Sunday evening and then declared a 60 day cease-fire wants President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to â€œbreak away from the tradition and fear of the past where other regions were afraid of fiscal federalismâ€ , otherwise â€œwe have a problem on our handsâ€.
It said it decided to attack Lagos because the oil companiesâ€œbegan to seek refuge thereâ€.
Spokesman for the group, Jomo Gbomo in responding to two e-mails from Sunday Vanguard on the Lagos attack, the criticisms that followed it and what MEND really wants, said: â€œWe hope this period of cease-fire will again allow the government appreciate the need to address the root issues.
â€œThe goal post will again be shifted until the core issue of fiscal federalism has been addressed. We hope the Federal Government will consider justice in every decision it makes because without it, every effort or development will come to nought and the circle will repeat itself and this is what we want to avoid.â€ (See details in Story of the Week inside)
The group rejected criticisms that it committed a tactical error by attacking Lagos and the warning by Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State that this should be the last of any such attack in the state. â€œNNPC Atlas Cove is not the property of Lagos State.
It is a legitimate target in our oil war. Lagos has attracted our attention after the oil companies began to seek refuge there. We have a list of targets in Lagos that will be visited if the conflict is not resolvedâ€, it said, adding, â€œIn fact, (MEND) have established a cell in Lagos that now monitors the oil industry.â€ It also said criticisms from other quarters made no meaning to it. â€œWe consider their opinions irrelevant. Itâ€™s because of our actions that we see the government taking concrete steps to address the Niger Delta question.â€
The support we want: It said: â€œthe type of support we want from any group should go beyond sympathy. If the west are supporting us when we cripple the oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta but get offended when same happens in their region would only confirm they are not sincere.
In the first place, the NNPC Atlas Cove jetty is not the property of Lagos State and is a legitimate target in our struggle. If we achieve fiscal federalism, it is a state like Lagos that will be among the beneficiaries.â€
OPC kicks, warns against another attack on Lagos:
But addressing newsmen on Friday in Lagos, the president and founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr Frederick Fasehun warned that a repeat of Sundayâ€™s attack in any part of Yoruba land would attract severe retaliation.
Dr Fasehun said his investigation revealed that the attack on the jetty was carried out by a dissident group within MEND. He said any attack by any group against Yoruba people and its territory would be regarded as an affront against the Yoruba people and would not be tolerated. According to him, Yoruba people, especially OPC, have always been sympathetic to the struggle of the people of the Niger/Delta.
Fasehun lamented that majority of the casualties recorded during the attack
were Yoruba. â€œWe view MENDâ€™s attack on the Atlas Cove with a measure of discomfort. That bombing left collateral damage not just on the key Federal Government facilities; it left deaths on its trail.
Some lives and property lost were those of Yoruba people. And as an organization sworn to defend Yoruba interest anywhere in this country, OPC will be behaving out of character and calling, if it keeps quiet.â€
He said if MEND did not refrain from such attack in future, it should know that OPC has the capacity to return fire for fire. “So, MEND should not provoke any unnecessary crisis between us.â€
The OPC leader also asked the Federal Government to â€œbegin the implementation of recommendations proffered by the several panels established on the Niger/ Delta, from pre-independence to the 2008 Niger/ Delta technical committee headed by Ledum Mittee.
We especially view the resting of the recommendations of the Ledum Mittee committee as flagrant demonstrations of insincerity on the part of the government. We request that the superlative resolutions of Mittee committee be unearthed and implemented immediately, as a matter of national emergency.â€