Former President Goodluck Jonathan has been absolved of forming the new Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to frustrate the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the umbrella body of Ijaw youths worldwide, which on Sunday exonerated Jonathan of any involvement in the creation of the new group, said that the former leader’s accusers were lying on the issue.
An alleged former militant leader, Israel Akpodoro, who claimed to be the National President of the National Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-Agitators, had last week alleged that Jonathan founded the Niger Delta Avengers to work against President Buhari.
In a statement issued in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Sunday, IYC spokesman, Mr. Eric Omare described Akpodoro as an unknown ex-militant and had no pedigree in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “The allegation that the Niger Delta Avengers was formed by former President Jonathan in a meeting he attended in January 2015 preparatory to the 2015 election to make the country ungovernable for his successor is absolutely untrue. It is nonsensical to imagine that former President Jonathan who conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent even before the final result was announced would make such a plan.
“In the first place, the January 2015 meeting of ex-agitators and stakeholders in the Niger Delta region was not attended by former President Jonathan and the meeting never resolved to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Buhari.
“The IYC leadership also attended the meeting and the President of the IYC, Udengs Eradiri, was one of the speakers at that meeting. The meeting was called to calm down the youths of the Niger Delta who were aggrieved with the attack on former President Jonathan in some northern states during the campaign for the 2015 presidential elections,” Omare said.
He recalled that when President Buhari came to the South-South during his presidential campaign as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), he was warmly received by his party supporters and traditional rulers, adding that the IYC even provided extra security for his campaign team when he came to Bayelsa State to avoid embarrassing Jonathan and the people of the state.
Omare continued: “However, the reverse was the case when former President Jonathan went to the North to campaign as he was stoned and attacked by hired youths and thugs sponsored by opposition politicians in the region. This situation made youths of the South-South to be aggrieved and it was in this state of affairs that the then Presidential Adviser on the Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, in conjunction with the Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Seriake Dickson, took the proactive step to call a stakeholders’ meeting where the attack on President Jonathan in the North was condemned and the youths of the South-South asked to give peace a chance. It was never resolved at this meeting to setup the Niger Delta Avengers and to make Nigeria ungovernable. The initiators of this historic meeting deserve commendation rather than condemnation.
“For the records, the said Israel Akpodoro was never an ex-agitator; hence he could not have been selected to address such an important gathering of stakeholders in the Niger Delta region. The issue of his being moved out of the meeting because he opposed the idea does not arise as even the press who were in the meeting can attest this fact. Israel Akpodoro was not an ex-agitator but was involved in questionable activities in Delta State and was only incorporated into the second and third phases of the Amnesty Programme to rehabilitate him and take him out of those questionable activities,” he said.
The Council therefore calls on the general public to ignore the wild and unfounded allegations of Akpodoro against former President Jonathan as he is seeking for relevance.
IYC noted that it is now the stock in trade of people from the South-South who are seeking for relevance from the Federal Government to castigate leaders from the region, especially those who served in the immediate past administration.