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Militancy in Niger Delta- N.D.E.N.Y.L.F.to the rescue;

By Edo Benin

An article on contemporary issues and developments in Nigeria by Hon. Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo- Senior Special Assistant to Edo State Governor;-Politics and Strategy.

After a careful appraisal of the over thirty years old agitation of the Niger Delta people for an equitable share of the oil minerals in their backyard; and the militant dimension which has been despicably expressed inform of armed struggle, and unfortunately the notorious angle of kidnappings, it has become imperative to salute the courage of the body of conveners of the Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities Youth Leaders Forum (N.D.E.N.Y.L.F.). Groups have emerged in the years past with the aim of proffering solutions to the age-long crisis, however, they were either overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges and the uncooperative intrigues of the stakeholders (the armed militants and the Governments) or they compromised.

The N.D.E.N.Y.L.F. is a coalition of ethnic nationality groups of Niger Delta region whom have been individually championing the neo-militant struggle for constructive and ideologicalised dialogue. The group's mission statement was well captured in the opening remarks by the chief convener and acting chairman of the Forum (Dr. Chris Ekiyor) at their maiden meeting on the 16th of July 2009 in Asaba, Delta State. He highlighted groups objectives to include- to provide a platform for the non-violent approach to the age-long agitation of the region; to strengthen the cultural affinity of the region's ethnic nationalities; to ideologicalize and advance the struggle for the restructuring of Nigeria's political super-structure within the context of true Fiscal Federalism; to support by canvassing for the total acceptance of President Yar Adua's offer of amnesty to all armed militants of Niger Delta amongst others. The array of personalities in attendance portrayed vocal leaders of non-violent militant groups in the region, namely- the Ijaw Youth Council; the Benin National Congress; the Isoko National Youth Forum; the Urhobo National Youth Movement; the Ibibio Youth Consultative Forum etc.

At a glance, the group's vision was clear and unambiguous. A critical diagnosis of the leaders of the various groups that made up the alliance, it reveals a picture of young men and women whom are determined to forge a purposeful course for Nigeria even as the group unanimously agreed that sufferings of the region is not orchestrated by the Northern region per se, but a set of oppressive political and economic elites whom are even unpopular in the Northern region of Nigeria. They resolved that they will collaborate with well meaning groups of Northern extraction in building a virile and consensus national restructuring framework for Nigeria's liberation. They acknowledged with nostalgias the liberation struggles mounted for Nigeria's Independence and post Independence eras by the present crop of old politicians, some of whom are presently truncating the will of Nigeria's progress by their godfatheristic tendencies.

To my mind, those who convened at the Excel Hotel, Asaba, Delta State to dissect a new and purposeful sense of direction for Niger Delta people and indeed all Nigerians on Thursday 16th of July and payed a courtesy call on the Governor of Delta State on Friday 17th of July 2009 are the emerging patriots of Niger Delta region. Nigerian politicians, captains of industries and the concerned public should embrace them so that they can work towards achieving their set goals. I am convinced that given their close contacts with the armed militants of the region, coupled with their out-reach with all tiers of government and the international public, they can help broker an enduring peace for the region and Nigeria as a whole.