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Negotiate with Niger Delta Avengers – Abdulsalami, others tell Buhari

By The Citizen
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A former military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to negotiate with the Niger Delta Avengers and other aggrieved groups in the country.

This, he said, would enhance the entrenchment of a lasting peace in the country.

Abdulsalami stated this when he received members of the Niger State House of Assembly who visited him to congratulate him on his 74th birthday in Minna.

He advised that all aggrieved groups should come together 'to discuss their grievances and find a lasting solution to whatsoever could be bordering them so that peace will reign in Nigeria'

He added, 'All we need to do is to sit down in a roundtable and discuss this problem. Even if you fight a war and win you must come and sit down with the people you conquered. All the insecurity we are going through now is uncalled for. What is Boko Haram?  Nobody knows what they want. The Niger Delta Avengers are now out, what are they avenging?'

He lamented that Nigerians were suffering unduly because of the actions of various insurgent groups such as the Boko Haram sect and the Avengers.

Abdulsalami urged the Avengers to understand that they were destroying their land while oil production had dropped to the lowest level in decades.

He cautioned that the constant destruction of oil pipelines and oil facilities by the Niger Delta Avengers would ultimately affect the 13 per cent derivation being paid to states in the region due to decline in oil revenue.

The former military leader said that the activities of the militants would also lead to a drop in the funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission while much harm would be done to land and aquatic lives of the region.

'I hope that they will come back to their senses and let us try to give this country peace. We do not deserve what we are going through. We need peace and I am begging everybody in the spirit of Ramadan, whatever religion everybody is practising, please let us give peace a chance, 'he pleaded.

In his remark, the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly Ahmed Marafa,  expressed gratitude to God for using the former Head of State to restore democracy to the country.

He described Abdulsalami as an illustrious son of the state whose counsel had been guiding the Assembly in making laws for good governance in the state.

Also, the Search For Common Ground has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to desist from taking the emergency approach in handling the Niger Delta Avengers and the Fulani herdsmen crises.

The Country Director, SFCG,  Chom Bagu, who said this in Yola, the Adamawa State capital on Tuesday, noted that following the group's assessment, it was discovered that the country lacked the security manpower necessary to tackle the challenges  thrown up in managing a diverse and a populous nation like Nigeria.

'So, for this reason, the Federal Government must see reasons for the imperative to involve communities in finding solutions to the challenges facing the country through dialogue,' Bagu said.

He noted that dialogue was also imperative in finding solution to recurrent herdsmen and farmers' clashes in the region, which he said, had grown to become a national malaise.

'The problem of clashes between herdsmen and farmers, is something the country still has to take the dialogue approach to address, otherwise there would be serious problems.'

He lamented government's failure in addressing the root causes of militancy in the Niger Delta, stressing that the crisis in the area was rooted in the clamour for resource control.

'What is key in the Niger Delta is that this conflict started as agitation for resource control which is legitimate because the Niger Delta has suffered so much deprivation. And because it has suffered so much deprivation there is the need to restructure our fiscal policy in such a way that there will be massive development in the Niger Delta to correspond with the burden that the region is bearing on behalf of the nation.' - Punch.