The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has released a statement in response to former President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s statement that the group and their leaders,Charles and Henry Okah were after his life. Jonathan in a statement released by his media aide, Ikechukwu Eze, yesterday denied claims of sponsoring the Niger Delta Avengers and also alleged that MEND and itâ€™s leaders were after his life.
1. The attention of the Movement for the Emancipation of the NigerÂ Delta (MEND) has been drawn to a statement issued by one Ikechukwu Eze,Â on behalf of former President Goodluck Jonathan purporting toÂ dissociate the former President from the allegation leveled againstÂ him by the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) that, the formerÂ President was the Grand Patron of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
2.Â With all due respect, the entire statement was deeply provocative andÂ embarrassingly misconceived as it woefully failed to address the coreÂ the issue of whether or not; the former President was indeed, the GrandÂ Patron of the NDA.
3. Rather, the statement employed diversionaryÂ Tactics which dwelt extensively on sour grapes! Any follower of eventsÂ in Nigeria and the Niger Delta who was privileged to read theÂ statement released by Mr. Jonathan would immediately observe that theÂ former President had a score to settle with the Okah brothers as wellÂ as with MEND who have since May 30, 2014, stopped attacks on Nigeriaâ€™sÂ oil and gas assets; and are currently engaged in dialogue with theÂ Federal Government to find sustainable ways and means of ending theÂ festering Niger Delta crises which were exacerbated by the formerÂ Presidentâ€™s ineptitude, incompetence and corruption during the 6yearsÂ he governed the country.
4. Indeed, the problem in the Niger DeltaÂ today has nothing to do with the current Administration of PresidentÂ Muhammadu Buhari. Far from it! The problem is simply, the failure of Mr. Jonathan to address the root issues confronting the region whenÂ he was at the helm. Even though he was from the impoverished region;Â and had, by his own admission in numerous electioneering campaigns,Â experienced the utter poverty and abject neglect of the region foistedÂ by successive Nigerian Governments and the International Oil CompaniesÂ since the discovery of oil in 1958 at Oloibiri (a few meters away fromÂ his native Otuoke) in Bayelsa state, Mr. JonathanÂ disappointingly frittered away the opportunity to rescue his peopleÂ when the Nigerian Presidency fortuitously landed on his laps, virtually on a platter of gold. For 6 whole years, Mr. Jonathan was busyÂ drinking, making merry and generally chasing shadows at the State House. Such a fellow deserves to be ostracized from the assembly ofÂ reasonable men; because the Nigerian Presidency might never comebackÂ to the Niger Delta region as cheap as it came to Mr. Jonathan;Â perhaps, in the next 100 years. Â Â 5. Lest we forget, MEND was at theÂ forefront of the armed struggle back in 2006/2007 which forced the thenÂ Government of President Olusegun Obasanjo to consider the option of drafting an Ijaw into the mainstream of Nigerian politics. That wasÂ how the perpetually timid and naÃ¯ve Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan becameÂ Vice President and later, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.Â When he assumed the reins as President, he did the unthinkable; heÂ tracked down perceived MENDleaders and promptly got them imprisoned onÂ a trumped-up charge of attempt to assassinate him. Up until today, Mr.Â Jonathan is still suffering from an assassination paranoia complexÂ (APC).
6. Secondly, a substantial portion of Mr. Jonathanâ€™s statement, unfortunately, dwelt on judicial matters which are pending in variousÂ courts in Nigeria and South Africa. For instance ,Mr. Henry Okahâ€™s Appeal in South Africaâ€™s Supreme Court is due for Hearing this August;Â while his brother, Charlesâ€™ ongoing trial in Nigeria is pendingÂ before Hon. Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court inÂ Abuja.
7. The former Presidentâ€™s statement was therefore, most highlyÂ contemptuous, injurious to the credit of MEND and the Okah brothers; and, above all, prejudicial to the eventual outcome of the ongoingÂ trials in South African and Nigerian courts, respectively.Â Consequently, both brothers shall, on account of the former Presidentâ€™sÂ prejudicial statement, institute legal action against him inÂ South Africa and NigeriaÂ within 60 days, commencing from today, AugustÂ 9, 2016. Accordingly, they have briefed their respective Solicitors to formally engage the former President in litigation.
8. Back to the core issue. MEND cannot hold brief for the RNDA whoÂ pointedly accused Mr. Jonathan of complicity in fueling the ongoingÂ Niger Delta crisis ;and patronizing the NDA, apparently for politicalÂ reasons. We are however ,quick to point out the fact that, the RNDA hasÂ merely vindicated MENDâ€™s belief and conviction that, the formerÂ President and his cronies who lost the 2015 Presidential election wereÂ using the illegal and treasonable NDA platform to destabilize PresidentÂ Buhariâ€™s Government.
9. Finally, MEND is committed to working with the current Administration to bring peace, stability and development to theÂ Niger Delta region. The process has since commenced with theÂ constitution of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT-MEND AARON TEAM 2, Dialogue,Â Peace and Development Initiative. BetweenÂ August 22, 2016Â and OctoberÂ 7, 2016 the AaronTeam shall embark on a tour of the Niger DeltaÂ region.
The proposed tour is code-named â€œOPERATION MOSES.â€ The keyÂ focus of the tour is to persuade militants to ceasefire and supportÂ President Muhammadu Buhari in his determined and sincere effort to develop the region.
The tour shall also help to boost Nigeriaâ€™sÂ oil production capacity as well as improve host community relations with oil and gas companies in the country.