*Say FG must withdraw troops for dialogue to commence
By Emmanuel Elebeke & Susan Onuorji & Chiamaka Ajeamo & Rebecca Amos
Following its recent cease fire from breaking pipelines in the creeks, the Niger Delta Avengers have declared their readiness to engage federal government in a meaningful dialogue that would return peace in the oil region.
They however demanded that government must also be ready to show commitment towards the proposed dialogue by withdrawing the military from carrying out further actions within the region.
One of the stakeholders of the Amnesty Programme and leader from the region, Elder Timi Ogoriba made the decision known on Friday, after an indoor stakeholders meeting held in the Presidential Amnesty Office, Abuja.
He said that the meeting was necessitated by the recent happenings in the Niger Delta region which had impacted negatively on the economy.
“I see an end to the militancy in the Niger Delta, definitely, there is nothing that starts that does not end. Right now, there is a cease fire because of the interfacing by some of us with the people that are involved.
“Government on its part has to show commitment by trying to put up a dialogue team, doing some of the things the young men had asked for, which I know they are very much aware of.”
On the military action in the area, Elder Ogoriba said it would be reasonable for government to also cease fire by withdrawing its troops from carrying out further action against the Avengers to pave way for a meaningful dialogue.
‘’Well, they say the military action in the region is a routine thing, but the timing is not proper. Now that there is what is called a cease fire, cease is not a one way thing, it is a two way thing.
“As far as we are concerned, the military is on one side then the agitators are on one side. If at this time, the agitators have pronounced a cease fire, and the military is still there, it may appear provocative, it may be misconstrued.
“So, we have been making several appeals to ensure that they withdraw. And if they think it is a routine thing that they are doing, let them not carry out actions that might provoke others which could bring about a combat, which we do not want now.”
On when the dialogue will start, he said, “we would not know when the dialogue will commence, we have asked the government to put up a team for the dialogue. The moment the government put up a team, within the next one or two days, the other side will also put up theirs, which we are trying to take care of. Dialoguing is a process. So long as it begins, and we are sincere in our approach, everybody will lay down his arm.”
Speaking on the possible extension of the amnesty programme, he said that the moment the dialogue starts, few of the things that were demanded by the agitators, which made them to agitate will be addressed within the confine of dialogue, insisting that sincerity is the hallmark of all the efforts.
“Once dialogue starts, what people of the region must be seen doing is to put up a bill of right, collectively, putting all the problems of the area together because it is not everybody that will be there.
“I am believing that at the end of the day, these issues causing problems for us will be addressed. Everybody should be interested, government should be proactive. People from the Niger Delta too should take care of their people and address the issues when they come up, adding that amnesty programme is not only the programme earmarked for training of people that are viable but noted that there exist other programmes that would meaningfully engage them at the end of the dialogue.