With the uproar that greeted the recent summit of Niger Delta ex-militants in Bayelsa State, a key member of the summit has stated that it was for the benefit of the Niger Delta region in particular and the unity of the country in general.
Chairman of Bayelsa-based Grassroots Initiatives, Chief Peretimi Akari, who spoke with the journalists in Lagos recently, decried that the real reason for the meeting was being misconstrued by the All Progressives Congress (APC) propaganda machinery.
According to him, “The central point of the meeting, which APC is shying away from, was to douse the tension being encouraged in the North, especially such inhuman treatment being meted out to President Goodluck Jonathan, including Katsina State, home state of APC standard bearer, Mohammadu Buhari.”
“It is against this backdrop that the Bayelsa State governor in his wisdom got all involved to douse the tempers, especially among the militant leaders. In fairness to my people, it is not fair for a political party to have a field day campaigning without being harassed, even in the state, home town of President Jonathan and other parts of the region while a sitting president of Nigeria cannot move freely in certain parts of the country.
“Yet, prominent northerners like Theophilus Danjuma, whose wealth is from the region kept mute, only to wake up and add his voice when a threat of retaliation emanated from Jonathan’s people.”
Akari, in a statement made available to THISDAY, said: “We want to put it is on record that, the meeting was based on the strength of peace for a united Nigeria.
“It was to bring everybody together and calm frayed nerves because we are not violent people. Yet we will want to sound it loud and clear that we will never be intimidated by any group of people, before, during and after the elections.”
He maintained that it was natural for the state Governor, Seriaki Dickson, by the virtue of his position to host such an all-important meeting.
“Though Dickson operates with a Pan-Nigerian outlook, yet he remains a firm believer of the Ijaws which he has continued to serve wholeheartedly. As a result, all the ‘violent’ movements look up to him, because by virtue of his office, as the governor of the only wholly Ijaw state in Nigeria, he remains their leader; a responsibility he never runs away from as he readily admitted at the meeting that: ‘I have a duty to moderate and work with these people and earn their confidence for a stable Niger Delta, because without the stability of this region, there won’t be a stable Nigeria’.”
At the summit, Akari said, Dickson reportedly told them that: “’The stability of Bayelsa is central to the stability of Niger Delta. And that will translate to the stability and unity of Nigeria, as anything contrary comes with great consequences to the world at large. So with that in mind, the recent meeting with some ex-warlord was to douse tension and the tempo in the region, especially with the purported endorsement of Buhari by MEND, and stoning of President Jonathan in the North’.”
He further stressed that the meeting was for the good of Nigeria, adding: “At the meeting with all the militant leaders, including those who were not on talking terms, a resolution was arrived at for the stability of the state and that of the region.
“Expectedly, they expressed anger over the stoning and affirmed their support for President Jonathan.”
Akari further explained that the governor also seized the opportunity to advise them of the need for them to get on the train and participate in the campaign without rancor.
“I’m therefore surprised that the APC propaganda machinery decided to lash on individuals’ comments, which are not new, instead of taking it from a better and broader aspect for the country’s interest. I repeat, our meeting was for the benefit of the country, for Dickson to intervene for the overall benefit of Nigeria. It is incumbent on him as the governor of the state to intervene for the good of Nigeria, and not for any danger.”