Some Niger Delta groups including the Ijaw Youth Congress and the youth wing of the Urhobo Progress Union (Ighelle r’ Urhobo), have faulted the statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari that he would treat militants like the Boko Haram sect if they failed to embrace dialogue.
The National President of Ighelle r’Urhobo, Mr. Ovie Igho, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Sunday in Warri, described the statement as anti-peace, adding that it could jeopardise the peace process being championed by the leaders in the region.
A statement credited to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media Affairs, Mr. Garba Shehu, in Nairobi, Kenya, quoted Buhari while discussing with the Japanese leader as saying that he would treat Niger Delta agitators the same way he dealt with Boko Haram if they failed to negotiate.
But the Urhobo youth leader said, “If the President at this stage is threatening to use military might when leaders in the region are already appeasing the youths and they had agreed for a dialogue, such statement is condemnable. We will resist such threat from Buhari because we own this country together.
“What the President said runs contrary to what the Petroleum minister told us on Friday when he visited Chief Edwin Clark that the Federal Government was looking beyond a ceasefire. This kind of statement should not be coming from a President who desires a lasting peace in a region that feeds the entire country.”
Igho stressed that it was also important for Buhari to reel out similar threat to Fulani herdsmen who were alleged to be killing people across the country.
Also, the IYC described the statement as unfortunate, adding that the President antagonistic posture contributed to the renewed militancy in the region.
IYC in a statement issued by its spokesman, Eric Omare, the group said the Federal Government had made up its mind to use force against the people knowing that the militants who were destroying oil facilities were not residing in a particular community.