Niger Delta militants

– The Concerned Niger Delta Elders has told President Muhammadu Buhari not to dialogue with MEND but rather with representatives of Niger Delta Avengers

– The group warned that negotiating with MEND instead of Avengers would have grave implications, such as conflict of interest, mistrust, non-implementation of resolutions among others

– CNDE says Tompolo should not be invited to dialogue on behalf of the Niger Delta Avengers

A group known as the Concerned Niger Delta Elders (CNDE) has warned President Muhammadu Buhari not to go into any kind of dialogue with the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), but rather with the Niger Delta Avengers or their representatives.

This was disclosed in a statement by the spokespersons for the group Seigha Manijar and Aureol Viviana. According to the CNDE, whatever resolution reached between the federal government and the avengers, would be a long lasting one rather than going through MEND.

The Concerned Niger Delta Elders has told President Muhammadu Buhari not to dialogue with MEND but rather with reps of Niger Delta Avengers. The group warned that negotiating with MEND instead of Avengers would have grave implications, such as conflict of interest, mistrust, non-implementation of resolutions among others, Vanguard reports.

However, the CNDE urged the Niger Delta militants to sheath their sword and embrace dialogue with the government.

The statement read: “MEND should speak for itself and not for others. It can speak on behalf of the Avengers if invited to do so. MEND should not arrogate to itself the authority to speak for others outside its ranks. “We understand the Avengers’ demand for foreign observers in the dialogue but we appeal to them to pick their representatives from among the numerous trusted individuals from the Niger Delta such as Dr Timiebi Agary, Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh (retd), Timi Alaibe, Prof G.G Darah, Dr Otive Igbuzor, Enemo Samiama, Roland Ekperi, Wilson Ajuwa and Joel Bisina, among others.

“However, if they are not comfortable with the suggested names, they should feel free to pick their representatives. That will show the world that they are ready for dialogue. The government should also consider the Avengers’ demand of inviting foreign observers as a show of sincerity.

“Once the federal government starts a genuine dialogue with the Avengers, who seem to have shown enough capacity and consistency in their acts, we believe that other groups will fall in line by absorption or coercion.”

The group also frowned at Tompolo’s willingness to be part of the negotiation saying, “Tompolo does not necessarily have to be in any negotiation team, whether it is driven by MEND or any other group. What is important is that given the right atmosphere, any group or representatives could discuss Tompolo’s plight, including Henry Okah and others. There is no doubt that Tompolo can be an asset to this government on Niger Delta crisis if well managed.”

Militants in the Niger Delta region especially the Niger Delta Avengers have been blowing up pipelines in the region and has vowed to continue with this destruction until zero oil is produced in the region. Following the re-occurring oil pipeline vandalism, Nigeria’s daily oil production has reduced to 680,000 barrels per day.

According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), with the high level of vandalism by the Nigerian Delta Avengers, the infrastructure in the oil sector will not get back to work until after about 15 to 20 years.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari last week revealed that his administration is in talks with Niger Delta militants. Speaking at a farewell audience on Thursday, July 21, with Michael Zinner, the outgoing Ambassador of Germany to Nigeria at the state House, President Buhari said his government is having a dialogue with the militants through oil companies and law-enforcement agencies, in a move to find a lasting solution to insecurity in the region.