By Lawrence Olaoye
The Federal Government has appealed to Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other militant groups in the Niger delta area to sheath their swords as government was making efforts to address all their grievances.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, gave the charge after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa yesterday.
The minister also sued for patience as some of their requests were being attended to by the government.
Briefing State House Correspondents after the closed door meeting with the President, Usani said, “it is a matter of patience knowing that some of these things have a procedure. So, it will not be because it did not happen the way they wanted so it will not happen. Everything has a phase of planning and a phase of execution.”
He said that he was at the Villa to intimate the President on the activities of his ministry while he (Buhari) was away, adding that though the issue of threat by NDA was not part of the discussions, government had started implementing agreements it entered into with the people.
On the purpose of his visit to the State House, the minister said, “For a while, he (President) has not been around and there are things he needed to know from me and so I had to brief him on issues pertaining to the ministry, the projects that are ongoing and other anthropogenic issues that have to do with the general matters concerning the Niger Delta region especially, at the throw up of some of the concerns bothering on who is right to speak for, who is not right to speak for and then issues of the Niger Delta Development Commission. All these occupied our discussions with the President today.”
On the recent threats by the Avengers, he said, “we haven’t discussed the Avengers per se but it is of essence as the President has always shown indication that whatever we need to and can do to sustain peace in the region, we would continue to do it.
“And of course, the benefit of that, you are aware that the Vice President (Prof. Yemi Osinbajo) has been chairing the committee that handles the issues they are raising.
“And so, while that goes on operationally, headed by the Vice President’s position in the committee, the President just needs to be briefed on our efforts though we know that the Vice President is briefing him from time to time but as per the Avengers issue, it was not discussed.
“On a general note, it is understood that we have to be engaged to be able to sustain the peace that prevailed for a while.”
On the claim by the Avengers that government has renaged on its promises to them, he said, the claim was not true as some of the promises had been met.
His words, “the first question which talks about all the promises that have been made are not seen is not correct. I just talked about the University. The other issue is the communities being part of surveillance of the petroleum infrastructure in the region.
“And of course you know that by the modular refineries which they had also talked about as sub-sect of how they can be engaged instead of what is called illegal refineries, they are also on, because the process of building a refinery or even getting the necessary procedures to establish such is not just a one day business.”