The militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, which last year aborted attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta region to enable the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) proceed with meaningful dialogue with the Federal Government, has announced the suspension of ceasefire.
In a statement by its spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, the group renounced PANDEF, led by former federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and another militant group, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers.
The statement said, “The Niger Delta Avengers are back and will not spare anything or anyone on our path to actualise a united and free Niger Delta.
“Our next line of operation will not be like the 2016 campaign, which we operated successfully without any casualties. This outing will be brutish, brutal and bloody, as we shall crush everything we meet on our path to completely put off the fires that burn to flair gas in our communities and cut every pipe that moves crude away from our region.
“We can assure you that every oil installation in our region will feel warmth of the wrath of the Niger Delta Avengers,” he said.
Reacting to the threats, however, leaders in the Niger Delta have rejected the militants’ position to restart bombing of oil and gas installations in the region, saying it was unreasonable and uncalled for.
But activists and campaigners also blamed the Federal Government for the twist of the militants, and lambasted feuding leaders and groups in the region for playing into the hands of government.
The campaigners said they were not surprised that the militants issued the notice of recommencement of its suspended ‘Operation Red Economy’.
It was learned that the convener of PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, was consulting with other leaders across the region, last weekend, and the consensus was that there was no need for hostilities by the Niger Delta youth.
The National Leader of Pan-Niger Delta People Congress (PNDPC), and Paramount Ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, Delta State, Chief Charles Ayemi-Botu, who spoke on phone from New York, United States, said he did not see any need for the Avengers or any other militant group to return to bombing of oil facilities.
“Dialogue remains the best option; the Federal Government should be open to more discussions with the leaders of the region and implement agreements reached. It should hearken to the demands of the people and execute them. President Muhammadu Buhari met with Niger Delta leaders about a year ago. I was among the leaders that met with him and since then, nothing has happened.
A former military governor of Akwa Ibom State and PANDEF leader, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), attributed the threat by Avengers to the failure of the Federal Government to keep to its promise to meet the demands of the Niger Delta.
He said, “It is unfortunate because it is like we are going back to the starting point. This is where we were about this time last year, and that was how concerned elders came together under PANDEF. It was that intervention that made them to cease hostilities and oil production went up from 800,000 barrels per day to over 2million. I think recently we have relaxed on the need to continue on the peace initiative.
The Ibedaowei of Opokuma Kingdom, King Okpoitari Diongoli, said the threat was a troubling development with huge potentials to reverse the wheel of progress in the oil-rich region. “However, I call for caution from all stakeholders as dialogue remains the most potent weapon for the peaceful resolution of the impasse”, he said.
“In my view, the Federal Government needs to show genuine commitment and sincerity of purpose in addressing the Niger Delta issues. The issues of review of ownership of oil blocks, the modular refineries, restructuring, devolution of powers and true federalism have been on the front burner for over 50 years and have not been addressed by the authorities which has further fuelled renewed tension in the Niger Delta.
Environmental and human rights activist, Ann-Kio Briggs, said she was not surprised that the NDA had said government was never sincere, adding “The policy that the government is operating is not a policy that favours the Niger Delta”.
“That is why even when former President Goodluck Jonathan was in power; it was not possible for him to do what we expected of him. The fact that for over a year, PANDEF has not been able to achieve even one point of the 16-point agenda given to the government shows clearly that government is not sincere”, she added.
National President of Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative (IPDI), Austin Ozobo, who shared Ann-Kio Briggs’ position stated: “We blame President Buhari for the return of the NDA and the suspension of PANDEF activities. Buhari trivialized Niger Delta demands and that is the cause of the return of Niger Delta Avengers, so, the international community and other well-meaning persons should hold Buhari responsible for any crisis in the region”.
Factional President, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, Eric Omare, said the decision by the NDA to resume hostilities was very unfortunate and worrisome.
“It is worrisome because of the devastating effect the attacks had on the Nigerian economy the last time”, Omare said.
However, the Presidency and the military, have carefully refrained from commenting on the NDA threat.
When contacted, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, referred newsmen to the Amnesty Office, saying “Reach Gen. Paul Boroh of Amnesty Office”.
On his part, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said he had not been briefed.
The spokesperson for the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Maj-Gen John Enenche, could not be reached for comments.
The spokesperson for the Army, Brig-Gen Sani Usman, also did not pick telephone calls, but in response to text message, he referred our correspondent to the Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), currently keeping the peace in the Niger Delta, for comments on the NDA threat.
When contacted, the spokesman for OPDS, Major Ibrahim Abdullah, he promised to get back, but as at press time, he was yet to do so.
NEC Pleads With Labour To Shelve Strike
The National Economic Council (NEC) has urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) not to abandon dialogue in their quest for better welfare for their members.
The Council also appealed to the unions to suspend their planned nationwide indefinite strike schedule to start on October 3.
Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State stated this while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the NEC meeting in Abuja, yesterday.
He said that the nation was at a very critical moment in its history, adding that some States took over such labour crisis when they assumed office in May.
According to him, some of such States just resolved the crisis and will be unfair for the labour to return to another industrial action.
The Plateau State governor said that the proposed industrial action would have immense effect on the economy of both the states and the Federal Government.
He said that the NEC expressed genuine concern about the situation in the country and appealed for calm and patience among Nigerians.
“The National Economic Council (NEC) deliberated on the planned indefinite strike by the National leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to proceed on an indefinite strike on Oct. 3, 2023.
“The council noted further the implications of the planned strike on the economy and the nation and thus urge members to continue to engage with the leadership of their respective states.
“It appeals to them to suspend the action and to continue on the path of dialogue with the Federal Government. This is the appeal of the council.”
Mutfwang said that the council appreciated the concerns raised by the NLC to have those issues addressed, adding that NEC also appealed for time to address the concerns of labour.
“We also believe that President Bola Tinubu will be addressing the nation on Oct. 1, and some of the concerns of labour will be appropriately addressed in the president’s speech.
“It is therefore important to note that it’s a federation issue, so whatever happens the labour is represented in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“And NEC is appealing that discussion should continue at the state levels because there will be peculiarities as to the issues to be addressed concerning the demands of labour and therefore dialogue is the way to go.
Burkina Faso Military Junta Foils Coup Attempt, Detains Four Officers
Burkina Faso said yesterday that four officers had been detained, a day after the military government announced it had thwarted a coup attempt.
The four are suspected of involvement in a “conspiracy against state security”, military prosecutor, Ahmed Ferdinand Sountoura said in a statement yesterday.
Two others are “on the run” according to the statement.
The junta said late on Wednesday that the intelligence and security services had foiled a coup attempt the previous day.
The military government said it would seek to shed “all possible light on this plot”.
The alleged coup attempt came nearly a year to the day the junta leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, seized power in the West African nation on September 30, 2022.
His takeover was the country’s second coup in eight months, both triggered in part by discontent at failures to stem a raging jihadist insurgency, which swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
The military prosecutor has urged anyone with information that can “contribute to the manifestation of the truth to come to testify”.
Late on Tuesday, thousands of people had taken to the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, following a call from Traore supporters to “defend” him amid rumours of a coup on social media.
Traore took to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday to stress his “determination to lead the transition safely despite the adversity and different manoeuvres to stop our inexorable march towards assumed sovereignty”.
French language news outlet, Jeune Afrique, which had recently published two articles about tensions within the military, saw its print and online operations suspended in Burkina Faso on Monday.
The Burkinabe government accused the news outlet of seeking to “discredit” the military.
Shortly after Traore’s takeover, military prosecutors in December 2022 said there had been an attempt to “destabilise state institutions”.
And earlier this month, the country’s military prosecutor said three soldiers had been arrested and charged with plotting against the ruling junta.
Investigators had received a tipoff about “soldiers and former soldiers working in intelligence” who were scouting out the homes and other locations used by key figures in the junta, including Traore.
Their goal was to “destabilise… the transition”, it said, referring to a term used to describe interim military rule before promised elections.
Burkina Faso, an impoverished landlocked country, saw Islamists sweep in from Mali in 2015.
More than 17,000 civilians, troops and police have since died, according to an NGO monitor.
Over two million people have been forced to flee their homes, creating one of Africa’s worst crises of internal displacement.
Anger within the armed forces led to a coup on January 24, 2022, toppling elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
On September 30, Kabore’s nemesis, Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, was himself overthrown by the 34-year-old Traore.
Traore has promised a return to democracy with presidential elections by July 2024.
Burkina’s military leaders earlier this month signed a mutual defence pact with counterparts in Mali and Niger.
The Liptako-Gourma region, where the three countries’ borders meet, has been ravaged by jihadism in recent years.
ECOWAS Donates $77,942 Grant To Train Poultry, Fish Farmers
ECOWAS has given $77,942 as training grant to 150 farmers in Bauchi State and the FCT to boost food security in Nigeria.
The beneficiaries are farmers of the Community Allied Farmers Association of Nigeria (COMAFAS).
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture Mrs Massandje Toure-Litse, made this known at the opening of a poultry training workshop for beneficiaries in Orozo, Abuja, Tuesday.
Toure-Litse said the grant would increase young peoples’ capacity to engage in agriculture value chains and food production.
She added that the grant is meant for the training of 150 youth in poultry and fisheries, as the two sub-sectors were the main driving force behind the sub-region’s economy and development.
“ECOWAS has designed quality training modules and arranged for the training of 3,032 young people (30 per cent women and 70 per cent men)”, she said.
Toure-Litse said agricultural productivity and competitiveness in West Africa had the tendency to impact positively on the sub-region’s food security, economic development, and livelihoods.
According to her, “the ECOWAS Agriculture Policy remains the guiding framework for the 15 members of the bloc as it prioritises agricultural productivity and competitiveness.
“The programme seeks to enhance the capacity of youth and women farmers and promote their access to resources and markets and their involvement in agribusiness”.
She noted that there was the need for urgent intervention in gender participation in agriculture and youth employment, food chains, crops, forestry, livestock and fisheries.
“Products from crops, livestock and fisheries are the second largest when we talk about intra-community trade and interestingly, among these, livestock is the largest item.
“It is anticipated that by 2030, at least 30 per cent of young people in the sub-region will be employed in the agriculture sector.
“This will amount to a 75 per cent reduction in youth under-employment in rural areas”, she said.
In his remarks, the Founder/President of COMAFAS, Dr Austine Maduka, said in spite of the expansion of poultry industry in Nigeria, it could only cater to 30 per cent of the needs of Nigerians.
Maduka said the training is aimed at educating young farmers on how best to start and manage production.
He said the partnership with ECOWAS would strengthen the move to ensure availability of meat, other foods and impact relevant skills for sustainable strategies to reduce poverty.
According to reports, 75 out of the 150 beneficiaries would be trained on poultry farming in the FCT, while the remaining 75 would be trained on fish farming in Bauchi.
The FCT beneficiaries were given 50 birds each, bags of poultry feeds and drugs as start-up capital.
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