Tony Ita Etim, Port Harcourt
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has named a seven-man team to negotiate with the Federal Government on the ongoing sabotaging of oil facilities by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
The negotiators which MEND christened ‘Aaron Team 2’ has former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Henry Odein Ajumogobia (Rivers); Bismark Rewane (Delta); Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa (Cross River); Timipa Jenkins Okponipere (Bayelsa); Ibanga Isine (Akwa Ibom); Ledum Mitee (Rivers); Lawson Omokhodion (Edo State).
A statement signed by MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said other members of the team shall be made public after due consultations with relevant stakeholders.
The group explained that “following useful exploratory discussions held with high ranking officials of the current administration, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has constituted ‘Aaron Team 2’ to dialogue with the Federal Government on the immediate, medium and long-term future of the Niger Delta region.
“Made up of patriotic and selfless men and women of proven track record, integrity and character; and drawn from different parts of the Niger Delta region, members of the MEND Aaron Team 2 are by no means members of MEND.”
The statement recalled that “the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had on countless occasions, within the past 10 years of the group’s existence, resorted to taking up arms against the Nigerian state and the international oil companies with a view to bringing to national and international attention, the pitiable paradox of the Niger Delta region.
“152 years after Otto von Bismarck’s famous remark that, “the great questions of the time will be decided, not by speeches and resolutions, but by iron and blood,” the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) precisely at 00:00 hours on May 30, 2014; in response to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Democracy Day speech of the previous day, unilaterally declared a ceasefire of hostilities against Nigeria’s key economic and strategic interests”.
MEND pointed out that “evidently, the ceasefire was an indication of the group’s belief that, in this present age and time, “iron and blood” might only become fashionable tools in settling questions when dialogue and diplomacy fail.
“Our message to the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) is simple: The Niger Delta struggle is beyond attacks on oil installations. Indeed, prior to the MEND ceasefire; the group had, among numerous daring attacks, on Thursday June 19, 2008 successfully carried out the spectacular attack on Royal Dutch Shell’s offshore Bonga oilfield which is located at a whooping distance of 120 kilometres (75miles) south-west of the Niger Delta.
“However, with the benevolent benefit of hindsight, the group realized that, after the initial euphoria of each successful attack, the gargantuan problems which confront our region; including environmental pollution and political corruption, increased geometrically.
“If indeed your cause is to avenge the injustice done to the Niger Delta region; then, we urge you to ceasefire and join us to the table of negotiation with the Federal Government; otherwise, the Niger Delta struggle shall be hijacked, once again, by selfish interests for their own personal aggrandizement. One such example is the recent purported NDA demand made through the region’s governors that the Federal Government should drop charges of corruption against certain individuals and politicians from the region. This absurd and ridiculous demand, to say the least, is far removed from the Niger Delta struggle,” MEND stated.