By Onome Oghenetega
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has given reasons why the group which made of ex-militants endorsed the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari in the forthcoming general elections.
MEND, in a statement on Tuesday issued by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said the group decided to pick Buhari ahead of his rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, for sustaining the presidential amnesty programme for ex-militants.
The group also warned other militant groups in the region who have threatened to attack oil and gas facilities in the region to shelve such plans in the interest of the region.
A copy of the statement sent to WARRI TODAY also announced that MEND now has a new commander.
MEND in the statement directs “affiliate militant groups to support President Muhammadu Buhari in the Nigerian 2019 polls.”
According to the statement, “Although MEND didn’t officially accept the Federal Government’s Amnesty programme feared to end in 2015, President Buhari has, till date, kept faith with a programme that has positively impacted on youth development in the region.
“Amidst other development efforts stalled by funding problems from dwindling oil-based economy partly occasioned by oil assets vandalism, it is MEND’s view that President Buhari’s re-election bid be supported to enable him demonstrate avowed love for the Niger Delta of Nigeria.”
“Accordingly, we inform that this peaceful approach is not cowardice and warn militant groups to shun vandalism of oil facilities. It is reasonable we suspend strategies like oil facilities vandalism that will endanger the environment, help government throw up economic concerns for lack of development action and unwittingly create death-dealing military face-off with defenceless civil populace, before we are willing to go for broke”, the statement cautioned.
“In giving this support, we know the world is watching, notes this peaceful path and hopes that President Muhammadu Buhari will reciprocate rather than fritter away this sufficient goodwill freely given for his re-election/stay in power. We wish to also affirm that MEND remains committed to the good of the Niger Delta”, it further added.