Mr. Alagoa Morris, a popular Niger Delta activist and environmentalist, on Tuesday argued that the failure of the Federal Government to abide by the recommendations of the 2008 technical committee on the region’s development was responsible for the new wave of militancy.
He spoke just as three separate groups in the region, namely: the Niger Delta Security Watch, led by Dickson Bekederemo; the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, headed by Austin Ozobo and the Ijaw Human Rights Monitors coordinated by Fred Brisibe, argued that unless Nigeria is renegotiated, insurgency in parts of the country would continue.
In an interview on Tuesday, Morris argued that the Federal Government had enough committees and conference reports on the Niger Delta development plan, but noted that the political will to implement them had been lacking.
He added that of all the recommendations of the technical committee inaugurated by former President Goodluck Jonathan when he was the Vice-President in 2008, only the Amnesty programme was implemented.
Morris, who is the Bayelsa State Coordinator, Environmental Rights Action, stated that the Federal Government had often been reactionary in its approach.
“Former President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the technical committee on the Niger Delta when he was the Vice-President on September 8, 2008, and did promise that the government would not treat recommendations/suggestions of the committee with levity.
“It is sad to note that only the Amnesty programme was implemented out of all the recommendations. Other recommendations bordering on clean up of the Niger Delta oil spill sites, development of communities and other environmental challenges were not attended to.
“So, with all these gaps, some of us were warning that the root causes of militancy were still staring us in the face and that they might be used easily as reason for another round of militancy”, he averred.
On Buhari’s directive to the military to unmask the militants, the activist advised the military to avoid a repeat of the Odi invasion , saying it would be tagged a genocide.
He appealed to the military to respect the human rights of law-abiding citizens by upholding a very high standard of professionalism.
“It is only approaching this matter in a professional manner, identifying targets properly and going after them that would regain the confidence of the people in our military and make us proud of them.
“On the parts of the militants, they should leave our communities and not endanger lives and property of fellow citizens”, he said.
Meanwhile, the NDSW, IPDI and IHRM ,noted in a joint release yesterday that only a national conference could reduce the rising tensions in all parts of the country.
‘’There is the Boko Haram group wrecking colossal devastation in the North -Eastern part, the Biafra movement strongly operational in the South -Eastern region of the country, the increasing prominence of Shiite militia in parts of the North , the marauding Fulani herdsmen now in every part of the country and finally the Niger Delta Avengers whose target is to cripple the already ailing economy.
‘’These are strong symptoms of a nation in dire need of direction. In as much as we do not subscribe to the mode of agitating for a better Niger Delta by the Niger Delta Avengers, we find it convenient to state that the issues that triggered off the recent agitation have become a recurring decimal in the history of Nigeria.
‘’ It appears the sanctity of the unity that brought us together as one indivisible country has been desecrated by selfish and self- serving political gladiators’’, the groups noted.
The groups added ‘’ In view of this, it is imperative at this moment of our nationhood to conduct a referendum in order to ascertain if the ethnic nations still wish to live together. This, we strongly believe, will avert any likely bloodbath among the tribal nations in Nigeria’’