Against fears that some former militants in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria could begin hostilities using the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, a leader of the group, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, has said the meeting he is conveying on Saturday 25 July is meant to sustain the peace existing in the region.
There had been fears of possible resumption of attacks on oil installations with many speculating that the meeting was being called for the purpose of commencing these hostilities.
Tompolo, in a statement, described the tension generated by the meeting as uncalled for, diversionary and mischievous as no evil is intended in whatever form.
“The nation would recall that in the build up to the Amnesty offer of the late president, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, there was hesitance on the part of most of Niger Delta agitators until God in His infinite mercy, granted me wisdom to provide leadership.
“The nation will also recall that under the Amnesty programme as inherited by the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, relative peace was enjoyed even as security of lives and property was enhanced to an appreciable level. Also, oil production increased from 700,000 barrels per day to 2.5million barrels per day.
“Put simply, hitherto aggrieved Niger-Delta youths who inadvertently became agitators, upon the acceptance of the Amnesty offer, refrained from armed agitation to face normal urban life.
“While some of us understand to an extent, the apparent delay in the continued payment of the monthly stipend to the ex-agitators in view of the seeming scrutiny of government agencies, including the Amnesty Office by the current administration, same cannot be said of the majority of beneficiaries of the Amnesty programme,” he said.
Continuing, Tompolo stressed: “to this extent, some of us, particularly myself and other leaders have been under intense pressure from ex-agitators commanders, individuals, parents and guardians as well as communities who are beneficiaries of the Amnesty programme.
“While a few see the delay in the payment of their monthly stipends in the light of the need for the current government to settle in properly, others see the delay as a template to stop the programme.
“The expulsion of some students (home and overseas) by their schools and training institutions particularly has heightened these fears. Hence, I thought it wise that a meeting of the collegiate leadership of the platform under which we operated as agitators could be convened to appraise the situation and possibly, explore means to douse the tension that is growing among the disarmed youths whose stipends (training allowances and tuition fees) have been delayed for months.
“This becomes more compelling in view of the fact that as leaders of the platform that served as midwife to the Amnesty offer, we owe the nation a duty to play our roles in order to stem a relapse of the relative peace in the Niger Delta region.”
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