By Dapo Akinrefo
Some elders of the Niger Delta region have mounted pressure on repentant militants from the region to suspend their planned protests against the acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Prof Nelson Brambaifa.
Early this week, the former freedom fighters had indicated their readiness to stage a protest against Brambaifa for allegedly overlooking the development challenges of the region, just as they called for his sack by the president, Muhammadu Buhari.
But apparently not comfortable with the posture of the former militants and the likely consequences on the region, some elders from the region approached them and pleaded them to cease fire while they intervene with a view to resolving whatever issues and ensuring that the acting NDDC boss addressed the issues raised by the former warlords.
In a statement on Friday, National President of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative, Pastor Reuben Wilson said he and his colleagues have resolved to suspend all actions as a sign of respect for the elders.
The statement reads: “We the Executive Council and the entire members of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative,an umbrella organization of majority of the First Phase Generals of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, wish to inform the general public that we have suspended our earlier planned public protests against the AG. MD /CEO of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Prof. Brambaifa .
“This is due to the interventions of Elders, well-meaning Niger Deltans and critical stakeholders of the Niger Delta struggle. They have strongly appealed to us to suspend our actions against the AG. MD /CEO, NDDC. They advised that we utilize other available means of resolving the issues in contention, as contained in our earlier press statement declaring our intention to protest against him. They also suggested various means that could be explored in the resolution of the issues raised.
“Ours is a commitment to the development of the region and part of the strategies for achieving that is to engage stakeholders. That is why we have decided to suspend our planned protests against the acting NDDC MD, as a sign of respect for our elderstatesmen and critical stakeholders.
“We wish to also state that we are in total support of any discussions on the way forward for our Niger Delta, whose development we sacrificed our comforts and staked our lives to achieve, while we were in the creeks.
“While we wait for our elders and critical stakeholders who have promised to address our grievances with the acting NDDC MD, we wish to state categorically clear that our commitment to the development of the Niger Delta region is not negotiable. We are ready and willing to support anybody or group of persons with similar commitments.
“All we want is an improved Niger Delta with good roads, good schools, quality infrastructure, etc, as well as the empowerment of the people of the region.
“We are therefore, urging our members and all lovers of peace and development in the region to remain calm as we iron out these issues with the relevant stakeholders, Agencies and the AG. MD /CEO of the Niger Delta Development Commission. We will not mortgage or abandon our collective resolve to advocate and pursue the holistic development of the Niger Delta region for anything.
We shall protect and uphold that collective resolve and desire to better our region at all times.”