THE call by a Niger-Delta militant group, Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, on the Federal Government, last week, to reject the newest seven-point demands by South-South governors until they (governors) start paying 13 per cent derivation directly to oil communities, has caused division among leaders, activists and stakeholders in the zone.
While some slammed the militant group for the request they considered outrageous and diversionary, others said RNDA was right in its demand, as governors had frittered away derivation fund over the years. A number of them said both the governors and militants have rights to express their views.
Among those who condemned the militants’ action were a former National Chairman of Traditional Rulers of Oil Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, HM King Charles Ayemi-Botu, and former Provost Marshal, Nigerian Army, Brigadier-General Idada Ikponmwen (retd.) while the Anglican Bishop of Calabar, Cross River State, Rt Rev Tunde Adeleye; son of First Republic Finance Minister and Chairman, Warri Consultative Forum, Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh, and spokesman, Niger Delta Rights Advocates, NDRA, Darlington Nwauju, threw their weight behind the militants.
Convener, South-South Reawakening Group, Elder Joseph Ambakederimo and Executive Director, African Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor, were of the opinion that governors from the zone are disconnected from the people that elected them.
Environmental activist, Nnimmo Bassey, and Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, however, advised the Federal Government to listen to both the militants and governors, noting that both are saying same thing in different ways.
South-South governors, lawmakers, monarchs and other leaders, led by Chairman of South-South Governors Forum, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State) had, last Tuesday, presented a seven-point demand, which included restructuring and true federalism to the Federal Government, through the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, who led a Federal Government delegation to a consultative meeting with people of the zone.
However, barely 48 hours later, RNDA, a coalition of nine militant groups headed by the Commanding Officer, CO, self-styled “Major General” Johnmark Ezonebi, opposed all the demands of the governors, describing them as politically motivated, urging the Federal Government to discard the demands until the governors begin to pay 13 per cent derivation directly to the oil communities. Continuous Emancipation of Niger Delta, CEND, an amalgam of 36 militant groups headed by General Officer Commanding, GOC, self-styled “General” River Lord, aka Adaka Boro, on the other hand, backed the governors’ demands, but agreed with RNDA on payment of 13 per cent derivation directly to the oil communities.
RNDA sold out—King Ayemi-Botu
In Delta State, paramount ruler of Siembiri Kingdom, King Ayemi-Botu, said RNDA’s statement is callous, childish, and meaningless, lacks sense of direction and a complete sellout. “Frankly, RNDA has exposed itself as being hoodwinked by politicians for a pot of porridge and lost its relevance and credibility,” he said.
Militants in order—Okotie-Eboh
King Ayemi-Botu’s position was, however, countered by Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh, who insisted that the militants are in order with their demands. He said: “I support the statement by Niger Delta militants to the Federal Government to reject South-South governors’ demands till the 13 per cent derivation is paid directly to the oil producing communities.”
“It is very sad to observe that truth is not sacrosanct in this area called Niger-Delta. I am so happy to hear the voice of our brothers fighting against underdevelopment the in zone. It is a sign of good things to come and a welcome development in our great region.
“I salute them and I can see the era of blaming our brother on the other side is coming to an end because we are coming to know the individuals behind the underdevelopment of our dear region.