In what amounts to a change of heart, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) yesterday agreed to enter into dialogue with the Federal Government on issues affecting the Niger Delta region.
In a statement on their website which was signed by the spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mudoch Agbinibo, the group which has nearly crippled crude oil exports since it began its attacks on pipelines said: “The high command of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) is using this medium to restate that there are no new items to put on the table for dialogue, we only want a genuine attitude and conducive atmosphere that will make us commit to any proposed dialogue and lasting peace talks.
“We want the Federal Government to commit the member-states of the multinational oil corporations to commit independent mediators to this proposed dialogue; we believe that it is only such an environment that will engender a genuine dialogue that will be aimed at setting up a framework for achieving the short, medium and long-term demands of the Niger Delta to de-escalating this conflict and bring about lasting peace.
“The NDA high command is restating our commitment to attack the interest of oil corporations and international refineries operators that bring in vessels to the Niger Delta territory to buy our oil that every successive government has refused to use and reapply the proceeds towards any development in the region since 1958. If they refuse to heed our advice, this will result in sinking of two of their mother vessels as an example to others.
“They should not undertake any repair of pipeline, oil and gas facilities that are damaged or attacked by our forces during this period of ‘Operation Red Economy’ until and/or after the dialogue.”
It condemned the activities of social media agitators being peddled around by some politicians to promote their criminal affairs in the Niger Delta , saying: “The genuine spirit behind our struggle for the Niger Delta cannot be derailed on the basis of connivance by politicians, traditional rulers, settled ex- agitators and criminals moving around to fill their pockets.”
It, however, warned the Federal Government not to turn the dialogue to a “political jamboree that is prevailing now where all manner of social media agitators and criminals have been sponsored by the job- seeking corrupt political class to save faces before the government of the day.
“Finally, if need be we may review our earlier stance of not taking lives. We are going to redirect and reactivate all our activities if the government, oil companies and their service firms don’t heed these modest warnings of not carrying out any repairs and suspend the buying of crude oil from our region as we await the right atmosphere that will engender genuine dialogue. We want peace with Honour not Peace of our time”, it added.
Earlier yesterday, perturbed by incessant attacks on oil facilities in Nigeria, Russia yesterday urged the Federal Government to employ dialogue to resolve the crisis between it and militants in the Niger Delta.
Russia warned that attacks on oil facilities was not pleasant for foreign direct investment into the country. Declaring the position of his country on the Niger Delta crisis, the Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Nikolay Udovichenko, said: “Sure the ongoing attacks on oil facilities are unpleasant for investment, of course. And I wish the Federal Government will solve this problem as soon as possible through talks and negotiations.”
Besides, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) at the weekend announced a seven-member team, led by Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, a former Minister of Petroleum, to dialogue with the Federal Government.
Jomo Gbomo, MEND`s Spokesman, said in an online statement yesterday that other members of the group, tagged, “ Aaron Team 2”, are Bismark Rewane (Delta) and Chief Florence Ita-Giwa (Cross River).
The rest are Timipa Jenkins Okponipere (Bayelsa), Ibanga Isine (Akwa Ibom), Ledum Mitee (Rivers) and Lawson Omokhodion (Edo ). Gbomo said other members of the team would be made public in due course after consultations with relevant stakeholders.
He said the team was made up of patriotic and selfless men and women with good track records and character drawn from different parts of the Niger Delta region.
Gbomo also said the team would dialogue with the Federal Government on the immediate, medium and long-term future of the Niger Delta region.
But Rewane has distanced himself from the negotiation team.
This was disclosed on his twitter handle yesterday saying “MEND’s appointment to dialogue with FGN not me. Do not know MEND or support any militancy therefore, cannot represent MEND.”
Rewane, an economist, who hails from Delta State stressed that he believes only in the peaceful resolution of the crisis that has engulfed the region in recent months. “ I believe only in peaceful resolution of the Niger Delta situation,” he said.
Before the NDA agreed to a dialogue yesterday, it issued what it called a “last warning’ to seven state governors to free pro-Biafra activists being held in police and military custodies in their states.
According to an online medium, the statement was signed by the group’s spokesperson, Mudoch Agbinibo.
The new militant group, which has vowed to bring Nigeria’s oil production to zero, has given 72 hours to the governors to free Biafra agitators.
“We are not negotiating with anybody and nobody is representing us. In 48 hours we will release a video clip showing our arms and the targeted areas. “All strike teams already in position awaiting command.We are ready for war and we have nothing to lose!!!”