By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South and Perez Brisibe
THREE militant groups in the Niger Delta region, Reformed Egbesu Boys of the Niger Delta, Egbesu Red Water Lions and Egbesu Mightier Fraternity have capitulated on their earlier decision not to allow the Niger Delta Dialogue and Contact Group, NDDCG, to represent them in the ongoing dialogue with the Federal Government.
A former military governor of old Rivers State, His Royal Majesty Alfred Diette-Spiff is the leader of NDDCG, which is a member of the Aaron Team 2 put in place by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, to dialogue with government.
Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, the foremost militant group in the region, had earlier rejected MEND and its Aaron Team 2 initiative, but President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed, last week, that the federal government was discussing with militants through security agencies and multinational oil companies.
MEND spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, confirmed the talks, but said groups like Avengers and other internet-based militants were not part of it.
The leadership of Reformed Egbesu Boys of Niger Delta in an electronic mail on behalf of other affiliate groups, said: “A fortnight ago, we responded to this subject matter wherein we stated emphatically that the Niger Delta Dialogue and Contact Group had no mandate to negotiate on our behalf in respect of the renewed hostilities against oil and gas facilities.”
“We wish to state that the leadership of the Reformed Egbesu Boys of the Niger Delta, including the Egbesu Red Water Lions and the Egbesu Mightier Fraternity have been duly consulted and our mandate secured for the negotiation by the Diette- Spiff- led committee,” it said.
Why we made a volte face
On why they reconsidered its position, the militant groups said: “Our decision to accede to the pleas of well-meaning citizens and interest groups to yield to dialogue should not be misconstrued to mean we are intimidated by the military threat to launch Operation Crocodile Tears. We make bold to invite the military to launch the said operation, which they have concluded all logistic arrangements.”
“However, we have it on good authority within the military establishment that the service chiefs of the Armed Forces are averse to dialogue, so as to launch a full-scale military operation to justify the utilization of the defense budget earmarked for the Niger Delta.
Why they removed Kachikwu
“Also, a cabal within the government went to convince President Muhammadu Buh ari while in London on medical vacation to rule out negotiation with Niger Delta militants. This was the reason they removed Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu as GMD of NNPC because he was going beyond the thinking of the military leadership,” it asserted.
The militants noted: “In the history of armed struggle, the Niger Delta had been bombed by successive governments, but this has not solved the problems of the region, as this generation of youths and those unborn would continue to demand and agitate for true federalism and restructuring of the country.”
“These are the minimum acceptable preconditions for the continued passage of our oil and gas to be exported as a national commodity for the development of the arid regions to the exclusion of our communities.
“We never consented that anybody should lump us together with the Nigerian state in the political and constitutional issues that characterized flag independence. Rather, we demanded for a separate government, but the conspiracy of the British imperialists and the Northern monarchy culminated in the establishment of development commissions for the Niger Delta. Today, all these commissions have all failed to develop the region,” they said.
“In the light of the above circumstances,” they added, “we join hands with well-meaning Nigerians and the progressive- minded ethnic nationalities’ self- determination groups to reaffirm that the present political structure of Nigeria is no longer workable and acceptable to the larger interests of Nigerians and that it should be abandoned.”