Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, was at the State House, Abuja yesterday to convince President Muhammadu Buhari not to deploy military might to quell the Niger Delta militancy in place of dialogue and negotiations.
His visit followed the declaration by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Yusuf Buratai, to opt for full military operations in the region to stop the resurgent vandalism of oil infrastructure that had crippled the nation’s foreign exchange revenue.
Emerging from his closed-door meeting with the president, Dickson argued that the terrain and history of the Niger Delta region had shown the futility of military invasion, thereby showing his preference for leaders across board to collectively address the grievances of the people.
“All over the world, once nations have crisis in the form of attack, leaders unite across political lines. I came in to have discussion with Mr President and I thank him for that opportunity and we cross-fertilised ideas around issues of security.
“Of course, as you know, Bayelsa is central to the maintenance of law and order and stability in our country, particularly in the Niger Delta region.
“Bayelsa is the epicentre of the issues that have to do with the Niger Delta; and we had fruitful discussions on the need for governmental and political leaders to work together to support the work of security agencies and foster better understanding of even people who have grievances and that we are committed to do so together.”
He stressed that the issues in the Niger Delta, the terrain, the historic nature of the issues and challenges are such that military solution may not be the way forward.
“For us who are products of political system who are at this level, we have a duty to mobilise communal and local leadership; we have a duty to support the work intelligence and security agencies are doing.
“We have a duty to ensure that issues are better appreciated and that we fill the communication gap; and where there are issues, they need be addressed and is also our duty to network like I’m doing to ensure that problems that are identified as the root cause of some of these challenges are looked into.
“The military solution, as I have always maintained, is not the right option. We are hopeful that the ongoing discussions will yield the desired result.
“I have always been in support of negotiations, of dialogue as the sustainable way forward. Dialogue will bring out the issues and then we will all unite around these common issues to move our country forward”, Dickson said.
The governor, who secured a tribunal judgement the day before that affirmed his governorship election, commended the president for not interfering in the politics of Bayelsa and warned the public to ignore those dropping the president’s name in the attempts to rubbish his gubernatorial chances.
“I also want to use this opportunity to appreciate Mr. President for his non-interference in the political processes that played out in Bayelsa in the last general elections.
“And as you are also aware, yesterday the Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja delivered judgement upholding my election and affirming my emergence as a true product of the democratic exercise of rights of our people in the December 5th and January 9th.
“I appreciate Mr. President for his non-interference contrary to the propaganda and the name-dropping that some politicians back home and even in Abuja embarked upon.
“There is no name they didn’t call, there is no claim that they didn’t make but I’m telling Nigerians, I’m telling Bayelsans to disregard all that propaganda, the President never had anything to do by way of negatively influencing the last general elections in Bayelsa and also the outcome of the Tribunal proceedings.