The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and the group's chief negotiator in the proposed dialogue with the Federal Government, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), have resolved their differences and agreed to work for the restoration of peace, stability and development of the Niger Delta region. This was announced in a statement issued by MEND and signed by Timipa Okponipere, spokesperson of MEND.
According to the statement, Ajumogobia has returned to the MEND Aaron Team 2, the all-embracing peace initiative inaugurated by MEND to negotiate the immediate, medium and long-term future of the Niger Delta oil with the Federal Government.
MEND explained that Ajumogobia is recommended for the role by his sterling resume as a former Minister of Petroleum, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and chartered arbitrator.
MEND is also hopeful that the return of Ajumogobia may persuade Mr. Jemide Bismarck Rewane to return to the negotiation table set by MEND. Rewane, a financial analyst, and investor had opted out of the negotiations along with Ajumogobia.
"With this development, Mr. Bismarck Jemide Rewane may also return to the Aaron Team if he wishes to do so. The group reckons that an economist and financial analyst of his standing shall definitely be an invaluable asset in the formulation of a comprehensive "Marshall Plan" for the region," said MEND.
The MEND Aaron Team 2 also expressed pleasure in having Senator Adolphus Wabara, a former Senate President, as a member of the team to represent the oil-bearing communities of Abia and Imo states.
The MEND negotiation team also called on all militant groups in the Niger Delta region, including the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to halt violent agitation and nominate their delegates to join the AaronTeam.
"This is with a view to ensuring that the Niger Delta region speaks with a single voice through the Chief Negotiator, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, at the forthcoming dialogue with the Federal Government.
"Already, the efforts have yielded fruit as the militant groups in the Bakassi axis of Cross River state have nominated Senator Florence Ita-Giwa to represent them," explained MEND.
MEND also acknowledged that its former senior commander, Government Ekpemupolo aka "Tom Polo," could play a major role in the peaceful resolution of the Niger Delta crisis. As a result, it has reserved a slot for Mr. Ekpemupolo or his representative in the Aaron Team.
" In light of these developments, I have been directed by MEND to caution agents of the Federal Government, including but not limited to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal; Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; as well as the Director- General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Mr. Lawal Daura, to be circumspect in their official actions and utterances about the current crisis in the Niger Delta region," said Okponipere.
MEND warned that it takes exception to Dr. Kachikwu's show of desperation to hold talks with fake representatives, pointing to his reluctance to give credit to MEND, Henry and Charles Okah for their contributions to peace gradually returning to the region.
MEND also accused the DSS over its penchant for propaganda and sensationalisation of the "arrests" of alleged NDA members.
The MEND Aaron Team 2 said its assignment would be for an initial period of two years, starting from June 12, 2016.