There is an air of apprehension, suffering and death in Nigeria’s oil rich region, the Niger Delta. Yesterday, a convoy of about 32 articulated vehicles was seen on the roads of Port Harcourt carrying long-range tanks, armored personnel vehicles and a wide range of weapons.
The Chief of Army Staff had earlier said the deployment was not meant to intimidate residents of Niger Delta but for strategic military purposes to make Nigerians feel safe in the region.
In response to events, Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) opined that deployment of troops and weapons in the region was an indication that the Federal Government was not interested in peace in the Niger Delta region.
In a similar vein, The Pere of Seimbiri Kingdom, His Royal Majesty Ayemi Botu, said the frenzied deployment of military hardware and troops in the region showed insensitivity on the part of the Buhari government and could throw the region into chaos.
“Sequel to the acceptance of a ceasefire, courtesy of monarchs and other leaders of the Niger Delta 10 days ago by the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups, one would have expected President Buhari to announce his dialogue team as he did in early June, 2016 when he declared a two-week ceasefire, preceding his medical trip to the United Kingdom.
“To the contrary, he has ordered the mobilisation of troops to the Niger Delta under the pretext of military exercise code-named ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ thus sending negative signals to all Nigerians and the international community that the stage is set to crush the militants at a time they have accepted ceasefire”.
“We have been making frantic and passionate appeals in conjunction with the United States Consul General, Mr. John Braye, calling on both the Federal Government and the militants to sheathe their swords and embrace dialogue to proffer lasting solutions to the Niger Delta quagmire”.
“Both the United States and the European Union have expressed their determination to partner the Federal Government in this onerous task now that the opportunity is available”
“Wise counsel suffices, but if unheeded and the military authorities go ahead to unleash their arsenal on the goose that lays the golden egg and all the strategic and volatile oil installations are affected, invariably the resultant conflagration will certainly overwhelm the entire region, Nigeria will be comatose economically”.