Prelate Emeritus of Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Mbang, has criticised the ‘Operation Crocodile Smiles’ in Niger Delta, saying the move by the Federal Government is counterproductive.
Mbang, who said this during his 80th birthday celebrations in Eket on Sunday, advised the government to avoid the use of force and opt for dialogue in addressing militancy in the region.
He said the government knew the problems of the oil rich region, and that it was just beating about the bush.
He said, “The truth is that you cannot use dialogue and force to settle issues, to make sense; I would prefer dialogue, but when you are talking about dialogue and you bring in military, it defeats the aim of dialogue. Have they tried dialogue to its end so as to use military?
“I was disappointed to see the crocodile thing, I must be sincere; the trouble of Niger Delta is not today’s trouble, it is trouble that has been on for a very long time and I am sure people know the solution to them but they decide to be dancing around what they know. Whether they believe me or not, they are working for people.”
The cleric warned that the use of force to resolve similar conflict across the world had failed.
He said, “It has not worked anywhere. You see, America wanted to use force in Afghanistan, Iraq and others, it did not solve the problems. In fact, it is creating more problems for them. If they try to use force in the area, it will create more problems for Nigeria.
“The Niger Delta people have a case. People from outside have come to look at this case, they should sit down and deal with it the way they want to deal with it; force will not solve it.
“They have told me that the oil bloc is one of the main problems, that no Niger Delta man has one oil bloc in their area. I really want to see them dealing with it. If there are oil blocs given to others, why don’t they give to people from the area, so that whenever anybody wants to talk about it, they will say this man or that has it.”