Nigeria: Reward for violence responsible for resurgence of attacks, says Niger Delta Leaders

By EmekaUmejei – Lagos, Nigeria – Cross sections of Niger Delta Leaders have described the resurgent of attacks in the Niger Delta as the consequence for rewarding violence.

The leaderswho are reacting to attacks by Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta(MEND) condemned what they termed a conscious policy of government to reward instead of addressing nagging issues of underdevelopment and unemployment in the region.

President of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People(MOSOP), Ledum Mitee, while acknowledging that the resurgence of attacks in the region is unfortunate, emphasizes that the conscious policy of government to reward violence is responsible for Resurgence of attacks in the region.

“It is an unfortunate development, especially considering the prevailing security challenges in the country,” Says Mitee.

“We have insisted that the continuous Policy of government that encourages reward for violence breeds the point that only those who can do violence can attract government attention.”

Mitee cites the United Nations Environmental Programme Assessment report on Ogoni Oil spill, which acknowledged that, “Shell and other oil firms systematically contaminated a 1,000 sq km (386 sq mile) area of Ogoniland, in the Niger delta, with disastrous consequences for human health and wildlife”.

According to the MOSOP leader, Government has done nothing to mitigate the effect of pollution long after the UN report was published.

“Ogoni Environmental threat has been released by the United Nations Environment programme but nothing has done,” Mitee says

“May be because we are not carrying guns,” he queries further.

Stating further, Mitee warns that a nation that focuses on violence attracts the kind of reaction the country is getting from militants.

“A nation that focuses on violence attracts the kind of reaction that we are getting”, Mitee said.

Corroborating Mitee, Former President of Ijaw Youth Council(IYC), Dr.Chris Ekiyor says until the fundamental issues in the Niger Delta struggle are addressed violence may remain an option to the youths in the region.

“I have always said that Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidency does not mean that the Niger Delta issues have been addressed,” says Ekiyor.

“The East-West road is still lying fallow, infrastructural developments are lacking in the region and the jobs are not forthcoming for even the educated people in the region.”

Stating further, Ekiyor says the upsurge of violence in the region may even be due to those who feel the FG is rewarding militants against those who are peace-loving.

“Those who are not violent may have even decided to go violent because it is only the violent ones that have been benefiting from government,” Ekiyor said.

“It is unfortunate that we are going back to the old days. Government should draw up strategies and begin to look at grey areas in the amnesty programme.”

On the threat by MEND to blow up South African Businesses and Investments in the country, Ekiyor urged government not to take it lightly.

“Government should not take lightly the threat by MEND to attack South African Investments in the country because if it happens, it would dampen the image of the country in the international arena,” Ekiyor warned.