Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has pledged its total allegiance to the Chief Edwin Clark led dialogue team with the Federal Government in line with the resolution reached at the Stakeholders meeting held in Warri last Friday on finding lasting solution to the lingering crisis in the region.
The militant group which reversed its earlier stand to oppose the Chief Clark led committee in a letter presented to him at his residence in Warri yesterday, MEND Aaron II, noted that the militant group decided to accept the octogenarian as the leader of the dialogue team with the Federal Government after a careful re-assessment of issues and consideration of his enriched knowledge in matters affecting the region.
The letter read by Aaron II Secretary, Barrister Timipa Jenkins Okponipene, however gave some conditions, which include the name of the negotiating team to be known as Niger Delta Peace and Development Group, in order to reflect the main thrust of the dialogue with the view of carrying all the stakeholders in the region along in the process.
It also recommended that since they have conceded to Chief Clark to lead the team, its group (MEND Aaron II team) should produce the Secretary of the dialogue team so as to have a voice in the entire reconciliatory process considering its input in the Niger Delta struggle that cumulated in the dialogue initiative with the government.
Other demands put forward by the MEND Aaron II was the inclusion of Mr. Leedum Mitee as a member of the committee considering his vast knowledge and experience in the region’s affairs and also a prominent woman leader from the region in order to protect the interest of the women in the entire process while the rest must be made up of people with impeccable character from within the region.
Accepting the letter, Chief Clark, expressed delight that the group has come to terms with the reality, stressing that it was a misconception for any one to think that himself and any other member of the stakeholders group he represented had the mind of leaving any group or ethnic nationalities out of the dialogue with Federal Government.
Meanwhile, Minister of state for Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachukwu, has said that the Niger Delta region needs more than a ceasefire but an enabling, secured environment that would allow foreign investments to enhance sustainable development.
Making this assertion while attending a meeting with members of the Stakeholders of Coastal states at Chief Clark’s residence in Warri yesterday, the minister noted that the region has a great potential of attracting multi billion dollars investments if the area was made conducive enough by the people.
Kachukwu who noted that a large chunk of the $80b investment with China would have gone to develop the gas city project in the region but was suspended because of the crisis in the region.
He however expressed willingness to facilitate the dialogue between the stakeholders from the region and federal government, stating that President Muhammadu Buhari was always ready and willing to dialogue in order to bring about lasting peace in the region.