Nigerians can heave a temporary sigh of relief with the decision of the dreaded Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to suspend its plan to renew attacks on the nation’s oil installations in the oil-rich region.
It was learnt that some elders and opinion leaders in the region, after various appeals and discussions with the group, have secured an extension of the existing ceasefire by three months to allow the federal government to demonstrate its sincerity.
While the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) said it had not rested on its oars in its efforts to bring lasting peace, stability and development to the region, the Pan-Niger Delta People’s Congress (PNDPC) said it had interfaced with the agitators and successfully secured a commitment from NDA to extend its ceasefire for three more months.
Also, Gbaramatu Kingdom, which had taken the brunt of NDA’s hostile actions since it was launched, has sent an appeal to the group to give peace a chance, warning against bringing violent acts near the kingdom.
National Coordinator of PNDPC, High Chief Mike Loyibo, in a chat in Warri yesterday, said although the agitators had their reasons for calling off the initial ceasefire, the elders and leaders interfacing with them hammered on reasons why peace must be given a chance.
Loyibo added that the three-month window was meant to allow government prove that it is sincere about its commitment to the region. Loyibo, who said the group is not a gang of criminals but a body made up of some of the people he holds in high regards, added that he would wash his hands off the search for peace should the federal government waste this last chance.
He said: “We have been concerned because the Niger Delta problem is a Nigerian problem. When the Niger Delta is in crisis, Nigeria is in crisis. If we don’t handle it well, it can consume the entire country the same way the leadership of the northern Nigeria, particularly those of the North-East, did not come out to handle the Boko Haram problem, which has now gone international.
“That is why we as leaders of the Niger Delta area came together to say we must stop this. “This last threat did not come from criminals, it came from some of them that I hold in very high esteem, and in the last three days, we have been working day and night; myself, Elder T.K Ogoriba and a few others, to see that we discourage bombing.
“We have just secured a three-month extension of ceasefire to enable government prove its sincerity for the last time. But if they fail us this time around, someone like me will pull out; I will no longer be involved in this peace process.
“The boys have said now that we’ve prevailed on them, they will listen again. I can assure you that you will not see bombing or destruction of pipelines and facilities because we have secured extra three months of ceasefire.”