Niger Delta militants demand reopening of Maritime University as Soyinka leads dialogue group

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, may play a key role in resolving the current conflict between the Federal Government and the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the militant group which has claimed responsibility for the renewed militancy and bombing of oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta.

Barring any last minute changess, Soyinka is expected to lead the dialogue team comprising about six other eminent Nigerians nominated by the NDA to meet with the Federal Government to explore ways of securing a ceasefire and restoring lasting peace in the region.

The resolve to dialogue with the Federal Government came after months of sustained violent campaign and economic sabotage, which has impacted negatively on oil production and revenue accruing to the federation.

Spokesman for the Dialogue Group, Ballantyne Agiri, confirmed that the NDA had constituted a contact and dialogue group to engage the Federal Government in meaningful dialogue as part of the initiatives to resolve the crisis.

Agiri, who declined to mention the names of the other members of the dialogue team, said Soyinka was chosen because of his track records as a freedom fighter as well as a credible and detribalised personality.

The move to select a dialogue team, Agiri said, has been going on for months, but was delayed due to the fact that the leadership of the NDA was looking for credible personalities who are capable of presenting their grievances before the central government and insist on extracting useful commitments from the other side.

Meanwhile, another militant group, Iduwini Volunteer Force (IVF), has embraced the proposed dialogue with government, saying it was in the best interest of the oil-bearing communities and the national economy.

Leader of the group, Commander Johnson Biboye, said it was heartwarming that the Federal Government has expressed readiness to listen to the agitators across the Niger Delta, but warned that government must remain committed and sincere during and after the dialogue.

The militant group resolved that for peace to reign in the region, all freedom fighting groups in the Niger Delta should cease fire as a mark of honour to the concerted efforts of the leaders who have been working on the peace process.

They urged the Federal Government to show sincerity in the peace process and enhance its credibility by urgently re-opening the Nigeria Maritime University at Okerenekoko in Gbaramatu Kingdom of Warri South West Local Government Council of Delta State.

The group also demanded the immediate release of all those arrested by security agencies in the course of the crisis while the list of all ex-militants already submitted to the Special Adviser on Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd) should be attended to without any further delay.

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