WARRI—THE Federal Government has taken steps to raise a Dialogue/Negotiation Team to discuss with Niger Delta leaders and stakeholders in a bid to formulate a feasible template on the way out of the present bombings and crises in the region.
Vanguard learned, yesterday, that the service chiefs, heads of security agencies, including the National Security Adviser, NSA, and relevant ministers had kick-started deliberations on the matter on the instructions of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Our source said: “The President is concerned about Niger Delta. One of the requests made by Niger Delta leaders when they met with him on November 1 was that he should set up a Federal Government Dialogue/Negotiation Team. You can see that he is already working on it. But the problem is that Niger Delta people are frustrating him. He told them bluntly when they visited him that as leaders, they should control their youths who are bombing pipelines, as he was not impressed with their level of control.
“Those who misunderstood him said all manner of things, but as we all know, even before the meeting, militants bombed a pipeline barely 24 hours after the meeting, they blew up more. They are making government doubt their commitment to the peace process.”
A top government official from the region told our reporter: “I hope our leaders will raise a team without rancour. The meeting with Niger Delta leaders was supposed to be with about 40 persons, but the number was raised to 110 because of various contradictions and acrimony. If they bring that kind of attitude to the Dialogue/Negotiation Team, they may scatter the whole thing.”
Meanwhile, the convener of Niger Delta People Congress, NPDC, Chief Mike Loyibo, told Vanguard yesterday, that the visit to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, was informed by pressure from the agitators and representatives from states of the region, who complained that PANDEF not only left them out, but failed to properly articulate their demands.
He explained that HRM Alfred Diete-Spiff, a co-chairman of PANDEF, who led NPDC delegation to the Vice President was a mediator and not a negotiator, adding, “He is a leader well respected by the people.”
Also, a prominent leader of PANDEF from Akwa Ibom State, Air-Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, said there was nothing wrong with the Tuesday visit of the Niger Delta People’s Congress, NPDC, led by HRM Alfred Diete-Spiff, to the Presidency, as long as the effort was towards resolving issues in the Niger Delta.
He said: “I have not heard anything to the contrary about what they are doing. From what I heard on television on Tuesday, the group said they were only re-emphasizing certain areas to the Vice President. So I want to believe that they have not contradicted what we have done during our earlier meeting with the President. And I do not see that as a rift in PANDEF, it is not.”