The wave of attacks on oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta will stop only if the Federal Government commits itself to a genuine dialogue.
The chairman of the default Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, Ledum Mitee, said in Port Harcourt, that irrespective of the recent stakeholder meeting between the presidency and Niger Delta leaders, the attitude of the Federal Government had not shown it was committed to dialogue.
According to Mitee, while government strategy to end the crisis in the Niger Delta is not clear, it is obvious that Niger Delta leaders still need to do some work to get a firm commitment from the government that dialogue is the preferred option.
He said everybody in the country would want a resolution of the problem through dialogue and not military confrontation.
“For me, there is no alternative to dialogue. I don’t see any alternative to dialogue. The point I keep on making is that we will not be tired of dialogue. But it is not just dialogue. What we have asked for this time is not just dialogue but a conversation that is backed with some credible action on the ground. If you agreed on something, then you go and do it and that will instil confidence in the process and in the people at the grassroots,” he said.
Mitee, who is a former president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) explained that the government should ensure that the Niger Delta technical committee report was updated to accommodate existing circumstances so as to provide a clear basis for sustainable peace in the Niger Delta.
To this end, he argued that if government was sincere it could implement some of the key demands of the Niger Delta leaders within the next three to six months to boost confidence that government was indeed committed to the resolution of the Niger Delta conflict.
On the current amnesty programme, Mitee called for its review to include an exit strategy that could transit recipients from being mere receivers of stipends to persons who duly employed.
According to him, the government of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and that of President Goodluck Jonathan, in a bid to normalise crude oil production, failed to fully implement the recommendations of the technical committee on how the amnesty programme should be implemented.
Mitee said government should to tackle the Ogoni clean-up and environmental remediation of the Niger Delta areas with seriousness to boost the confidence of the people of the region.
He also suggested that the issue of the maritime university at Okerenkoko and maritime academy at Oron should be addressed as well.
Mitee lamented that government had allowed the Niger Delta crisis to fester for too long. He observed that the emergence of another militant group under the aegis of Niger Delta Avengers years after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) ceased attacks on oil installations ought to give everyone concern so much so that the Niger Delta question should be urgently addressed.