‘Don’t take ceasefire agreement for granted’, Avengers, others warn FG
…As military continues mobilization for Operation Crocodile Smile II
…IYC faction tells Buhari to drop military approach to N’Delta issues
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
WARRI- AS the Nigerian military mobilizes to commence Operation Crocodile Smile II in the Niger Delta region, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, Wednesday, warned the Federal Government not to take the ceasefire agreement reached with militants in 2016 and the temporary suspension of the two -week ultimatum by the militant group for granted.
Also, the faction of Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, led by Mr. Eric Omare, in a statement, said: “What the Niger Delta region need are smiles of human joy flowing from positive developmental projects and not smiles of military- induced crocodile.”
Leader of RNDA, self-styled “Major General” Johnmark Ezonbi, in an electronic mail, shortly after a crucial meeting at the creeks of Benin River in Delta State, said the warning became pertinent because “it was apparent that all the promises made by the federal government to develop the long neglected region were just mere rhetoric.”
The group asserted: “It is obvious that the federal government is taking us for granted as nothing tangible has been done in the Niger Delta in terms of development despite promises made by the federal government while funds realized from sales of crude oil was being used to rebuild the North East destroyed by the senseless Book Haram terrorist while our region remains undeveloped”.
“The ceasefire agreement was reached in August 2016 with the federal government following the fact- finding and peace moves made by the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo, Minister of Petroleum (State), Dr Ibe Kachikwu, which boosted oil production to 2.2million barrels per day.
“While the two weeks ultimatum to commence devastating destruction of oil facilities across the Niger Delta was temporarily suspended on the 19th of September 2017 due to pleas and intervention from some respected traditional rulers and stakeholders like the paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, Pere Charles Ayemi-Botu, Pere of Ogulagha Kingdom, Joseph Temiyan, High Chief Mike Loyibo, Dr Mike Emuh, national chairman of HOSTCOM, Hendrick Opukeme, Famous Daunemugha among others,” the militant leader noted.
RNDA maintained that “there was no infrastructural development, no school, road, potable water, hospital, housing while the people still suffer the worse form of neglect, pollution and environmental degradation caused by activities of multinational oil companies due to oil exploration and exploitation.”
It said since the vice president visited the region and promised massive development, nothing has changed, asking: “How can the federal government be so wicked to treat some regions with levity, deprive them of their legitimate rights and benefits, while others receive attention at the expense of those producing the bulk of the nation’s wealth.”
RNDA vowed: “It has to stop because if it is allowed to continue then one the Niger Delta will be extinct in terms of practical development. We, therefore, urge the President Muhammadu Buhari -led APC federal government to urgently enter fresh talks with the Pan Niger Delta People’s Congress PNDPC headed by the Paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom and former national chairman of TROMCOM, Pere Charles Ayemi Botu, who have been at the forefront for the development of the long neglected region with the coordinator of PNDPC, High Chief Mike Loyibo, Pere of Ogulagha kingdom Joseph Temiyan, traditional ruler of Opokuma kingdom, Professor Benjamin Okaba, HOSTCOM national chairman, Dr Mike Emuh and other notable stakeholders, who have good track record.”
Meanwhile, IYC factional president, Eric Omare, in a statement, said: “As the Nigerian military gets set to commence the Operation Crocodile Smile 11 from Saturday, the 7th of October, 2017 in the Niger Delta region, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide the smile of the crocodile is ugly and not a good sight to behold. What the Niger Delta need is beautiful human smile that would bring joy to the people through policies of development and not military operations.”
“The Niger Delta region that has been surviving the Nigerian state since 1958 when oil was discovered in commercial quantity at Oloibiri, Bayelsa State has experienced too much pains rather than joy.
“The IYC disagrees with the argument of the military that the Operation Crocodile smile is a routine military training exercise. We hold the strong view that military exercise of whatsoever nature is not required in the region; rather we need practical steps to address the developmental challenges facing the region.
“We believe that if the developmental challenges facing the region are addressed, there would be no need to train military officers in preparation for military operations of whatsoever nature in the region,” he asserted.
Omare added: “The IYC demand that instead of Operation Crocodile Smiles, the federal government should fulfill its promises to the region, which led to the cessation of militant activities in 2016. “
“It is sad to note that the federal government has even failed to release funds for the take-off of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State despite claim by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at Akure, Ondo State that N2 billion had been released.
“ It would interest Nigerians to note that the N2 billion the federal government refused to release for the take-off of the maritime university had earlier been released to the university management during the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan through the Patrick Akpobolokaemi led NIMASA.
“The money was only returned to the Treasury Single Account upon the assumption of office of President Buhari. However, the Buhari- led administration has refused to release fund for the university to take-off despite the fact that the 2017/2018 academic session has started in institutions all over the world. It is germane to note that the immediate take-off of the maritime university was one of the key promises of the Buhari led federal government to the Niger Delta people,” he stated.
According to the factional IYC leader: “This singular act clearly shows that the federal government is not interested in enduring peace in the Niger Delta region, but only the free flow of oil. This is very sad and condemnable. We call on the Buhari administration to change its military approach to issues of the Niger Delta and adopt development- driven approach.”