Wednesday, 10 August 2016

News Release: MEND Replies Former President Jonathan

The attention of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has been drawn to a statement issued by one Ikechuckwu Eze, on behalf of former President Goodluck Jonathan purporting to dissociate himself from the allegation leveled against him by the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) that, the former President was the Grand Patron of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).

With all due respect, the entire statement was was deeply provocative and embarrassingly misconceived as it woefully failed to address the core issue of whether or not, the former President was indeed, the Grand Patron of the NDA.

Rather, the statement employed diversionary tactics which dwelt extensively on sour grapes! Any follower of events in Nigeria and the Niger Delta who was privileged to read the statement released by Mr. Jonathan, would immediately observe that the former President had a score to settle with the Okah brothers as well as MEND who have since May 30, 2014 stopped attacks on Nigeria's oil and gas assets; and are currently engaged in dialogue with the Federal Government to find sustainable ways and means of ending the festering Niger Delta crises which was exacerbated by the former President's ineptitude, incompetence and corruption during the six (6) years he governed the country.

Indeed, the problem in the Niger Delta today has nothing to do with the current Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Far from it! The problem is simply, the failure of Mr. Jonathan to address the root issues confronting the region when he was at the helm. Even though he was from thr impoverished region; and had, by his own admission in numerous electioneering campaigns, experienced the utter poverty and abject neglect of the region foisted by successive Nigerian Governments and the International Oil Companies since the discovery of oil in 1958 at Oloibiri (a few meters away from his native Otuoke) in Bayelsa state, Mr. Jonathan disappointingly frittered away the opportunity to rescue his people when the Nigerian Presidency fortuitously landed on his laps, virtually on a platter of gold. For 6 whole years, Mr. Jonathan was busy drinking, making merry and generally chasing shadows at the State House. Such a fellow deserves to be ostracized from the assembly of reasonable men; because the Nigerian Presidency might never come back to the region as cheap as it came to Mr. Jonathan; perhaps in the next 100 years.

Lest we forget, MEND was at the forefront of the armed struggle back in 2006/2007 which forced President Olusegun Obasanjo to consider the option of drafting an Ijaw man into the mainstream of Nigerian politics. That was how the perpetually timid and naïve Goodluck Jonathan became Vice President and later, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

When he assumed therein as President, he did the unthinkable; he tracked down perceived MEND leaders and promptly got them imprisoned on a trumped-up charge of attempt to assassinate him. Up until today, Mr. Jonathan is still suffering from an Assassination Paranoia Complex (APC).

Secondly, a substantial portion of Mr. Jonathan’s statement unfortunately dwelt on judicial matters which are pending in various courts in Nigeria and South Africa. For instance, Mr. Henry Okah's Appeal in South Africa's Constitutional Court is due for Hearing this August; while his brother, Charles' ongoing trial in Nigeria is pending before Hon. Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The former President's statement was therefore, contemptuous and prejudicial to the success of the ongoing trials of Henry and Charles Okah in South African and Nigerian courts, respectively. Consequently, both brothers shall, on account of the former President's prejudicial statement, institute legal action against him in South Africa and Nigeria within 60 days, commencing from today, August 8, 2016. Accordingly, they have briefed their respective Solicitors to formally engage the former President in litigation.

Back to the core issue. MEND cannot hold brief for the RNDA who pointedly accused the former President of complicity in fueling the ongoing Niger Delta crisis; and patronizing the NDA, apparently for political reasons. We are however, quick to point out the fact that,
the RNDA has merely vindicated MEND's belief and conviction that, the former President and his cronies who lost the 2015 Presidential election were using the NDA platform to destabilize President Buhari's Government.

Finally, MEND is committed to working with the current Administration to bring peace, stability and development to the Niger Delta region. The process has since commenced with the constitution of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT-MEND AARON TEAM 2, Dialogue, Peace and Development Initiative. Between August 22, 2016 and October 07, 2016 the Aaron Team shall embark on a tour of the Niger Delta region. The proposed tour is code-named “OPERATION MOSES”. The key focus of the tour is to persuade militants to ceasefire and support President Muhammadu Buhari in his determined and sincere effort to develop the region. The tour shall also help to boost Nigeria’s oil production capacity as well as improve host community relations with oil and gas companies in the country.

Jomo Gbomo

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