By Emma Amaize
A FORMER National Chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, and paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, Delta State, His Majesty, Pere (Dr) Charles Ayemi-Botu, says he foresees “looming crisis of catastrophic dimension and uneasy tension” in the Niger Delta.
The monarch, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to nip the looming disaster capable of throwing Nigeria into serious in the bud.
Ayemi- Botu, aka Lion of the Niger, said: “Wise counseling suffice that both the Federal Government and the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other militant groups should, as a matter of urgency, embrace peace without further delay and resort to dialogue in order to save Nigeria from avoidable crisis.”
He warned that Nigeria should not turn itself to an object of ridicule in the international community or create an avenue for some countries to sell weapons, adding that before his last medical trip abroad, Buhari ordered a two-week ceasefire and instantly set up a negotiation committee for dialogue with Avengers and other militant groups.
The monarch, who held a press conference with the United States of America Consul General, Mr. John Braye, when he visited him in his palace annex in Warri in May 2016, calling on the Federal Government and NDA to embrace dialogue, said he was disturbed at the emerging signals in the region.
He said the expectation was that, on his return to the country, the President would put the machinery in motion to kick-start dialogue with the NDA by nominating people, after consultation, with governors of the affected states and inaugurate the committee with a deadline to submit their report.
“It is highly likely that he will not renege from his avowed promise to implement the peace process in the Niger Delta as he had already started cleaning up the long awaited environmental pollution in Ogoni and hopefully extend it to other affected areas such as Delta, Bayelsa and Akwa-Ibom states”, he said.
“But a situation whereby the media is being used to canvas your (Buhari) terms of settlement demonstrates a high degree of unseriousness in such a complex and volatile issue. It seems like a child’s play”.
The royal father added: “We had some rays of hope when the Minister of State for Petroleum and former Group Managing Director, GMD, NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, went on consultative mission to Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Delta states, and proceeded to meet other stakeholders in the creeks to interface with them through the President’s directive.
“Though, some positive development was in the making, suddenly, he was dropped as GMD NNPC, apparently it’s a mission unaccomplished.
“There are rumors in the print, electronic and social media that militants will deploy or launch missiles on targeted cities and the Federal Government, on its part, has supposedly concluded plans to engage Saudi Black Water Mercenaries to fight pipeline vandalism.
“I do not know how true the report is but that would cost millions of dollars. Apparently, all these are unnecessary beating of the war drums. It is a proven fact that it is better not to war-war but to jaw-jaw and no problem can be completely resolved through the barrel of the gun but through intensive dialogue”.