A coalition of nine militant groups in the Niger Delta, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, has blamed the Peoples Democratic Party for the underdevelopment of the region while it was in power at the centre for 16 years.
In a statement by the Leader, RNDA, ‘General’ Johnmark Ezonebi, sent via electronic mail on Monday, the militants alleged that instead of the PDP to make concerted efforts to develop the region during its heydey, it was busy looting the nation’s treasury.
The RNDA also expressed regret at the about six-year reign of former President Goodluck Jonathan, alleging that the Jonathan administration was characterised by corruption, looting, favouritism and non-supervision of his appointees.
The militants’ group said during the Jonathan era, there was no completed project in the region, noting that the situation took the region back to the stone age of underdeveloment.
The RNDA, however, commended the efforts of the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress towards the development of the region, saying that after appraising the situation in the creeks, the President deserved some commendation.
It, therefore, sounded a note of warning to some leaders of the region, whom they described as the enemies of the Niger Delta, to steer clear of the region or else have themselves to be blamed.
The RNDA said, “We accepted the Federal Government’s ceasefire agreement in 2016 for dialogue. That acceptance has led to the sustained peace in the region following the renewed destruction and bombings of oil installations and facilities that crippled the nation’s crude oil output which eventually led to recession.
“Most worrisome and painful is the fact that Buhari’s predecessor goofed on the development of the region as he was unable to complete the road to his own Otuoke community in Bayelsa State while the most corrupt disciples in his government were sons and daughters of the Niger Delta.
“RNDA is pleased with President Buhari’s willingness and commitment to the development of the Niger Delta since he came on board in 2015 in spite of the economic recession that greeted the emergence of his administration as the crude oil output production hit as low as 900 barrels daily and the crude oil sales price was as low as between $35 and $45 per barrel due to the new agitation in the creek for development of the region.
“President Buhari’s fight against corruption, which was the signpost of the previous administrations, has clearly defined his stand on the development of the region. We want to commend Mr. President for the smooth take off of academic activities of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State.
“We want to also commend the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, for the approval for the dredging of the Escravos Warri river at the cost of N13bn to enable them to use cargo vessels to access Warri seaport which will in turn boost economic activities in the Niger Delta and to create employment for the teaming youths in the creeks.”
The militants’ coalition, however, urged President Buhari to complete the East-West Road, a major gateway to other parts of the country abandoned by the previous governments.
The RNDA equally demanded the release of the gas flare penalty fund for the affected oil-producing communities in the creeks as well as the immediate approval of the pipeline surveillance jobs for the various agitating militant groups in the creeks through the leadership of Host Communities.
Other demands by the RNDA were the proper funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission, release of the 10 licences for modular refineries as well as the relocation of the headquarters of multinational oil companies to the region.
The coalition also urged the President to open dialogue with the leaders of the Pan Niger Delta Peoples Congress under the leadership of King Pere Ayemi-Botu on the way forward for the region.
The group added, “President Buhari and the office of the Presidential Amnesty Programme should be watchful of some self-acclaimed leaders of the Niger Delta who are jobless fellows parading themselves on the streets of Abuja just to deceive the government in order to make a living in Abuja.
“While we wish to work with the new Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, he should be mindful of the so-called corrupt leaders in the region that misled the immediate past Coordinator of the PAP, Gen. Paul Boroh (retd.).
“Those leaders abandoned him (Boroh) ‘at the middle of the river when the tide was against him’, despite spending millions of naira on their disbanded group which is majorly made up of failed and corrupt politicians.”