An advocacy group in the Niger Delta, the Grassroots Initiative for Peace and Social Orientation (GIPSO), has advised the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to stop frustrating the peace process in the region.
GIPSO said the minister’s alleged selective town hall meetings with some groups and ex-militant leaders in the region was capable of creating tension and dividing interests against the peace package put together by the Federal Government for the region.
The group in a statement via electronic mail on Wednesday by its National Coordinator, Richard Akinaka, urged Kachikwu to engage the critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta instead of giving undue advantage to those it described as ”blackmailers of the Federal Government”.
GIPSO said, “There is need for robust consultations on the ways to actualise genuine take-off of the bumper packages unveiled by the Federal Government in the Niger Delta.
“However, there is a noticeable tension being generated by the series of selective town hall meetings organised by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, which is giving undue advantage to those who decided to blackmail the government by bombing oil and gas infrastructure in the region.
“A report put together from the interactive sessions with key stakeholders shows that Kachikwu is merely reducing the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo goodwill to resolve the Niger Delta crisis and engender sustainable development to a mere town hall meetings with some opportunists.
“Such a move will only succeed in creating further crises in the region. It is our firm belief that he (minister) should embrace a wholistic approach in addressing the issues instead of resorting to meeting with only few persons that have plundered the commonwealth of the nation.”
The group rationalised that Kachikwu’s pattern of selective engagement of people that would satisfy the demands of those blackmailing government through pipeline destruction instead of those genuinely working for peace and development of the region was misplaced, unthinkable and counter-productive.
It said while everything seemed to be going well for those whose interests were being served, a bad precedent was being set for others who might look the other way and throw caution to the wind.
GIPSO added, “The minister has not been talking with the right people. He is using his office to undermine the peace process by rewarding those who took arms against the government because of his political ambition.
“He has been side-lining critical people who have interest and background in the peace building process in the region. What Kachikwu is doing is setting a bad precedent by rewarding those who took arms for no reasons whatsoever by giving them preferential treatment.
“As much we are interested in the Vice President and process he has started, Osinbajo should be very careful about the people who are coordinating the process. Who and who is Kachikwu talking to? Is it the Aaron’s team or ex militant leaders? We need to know.
“Our advice to the government is; let them not set a bad precedent that will be disastrous tomorrow in the name of rewarding those who destroyed the national assets through the Niger Delta Avengers because others are watching. There are complaints here and there.”