The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta on Wednesday congratulated Nigeria’s President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, on his victory in the March 28 presidential election.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, the group said by speaking through the poll, the Nigerian people have spoken and elected Mr. Buhari to be the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“In doing so, we have not only made the right choice of a new leadership, we have also reaffirmed the strength of our democracy,” MEND said.
“President-elect General Mohammadu Buhari’s message of hope, freedom and opportunity resonates with our group, as it does with the Nigerian people. In these difficult times, with the economic crisis and security challenges, we are confident that under your leadership, Nigeria will once again regain its Peace and Unity.”
But in a rare expression of goodwill the group commended President Goodluck Jonathan for showing outstanding statesmanship in conceding defeat.
It said Mr. Jonathan had set precedence as the first ever incumbent Nigerian president to concede defeat without interfering in the electoral process.
MEND prayed God to grant Mr. Buhari and all those who will serve with him wisdom, strength and compassion in the coming years.
The militant group had on January 6 threw its weight behind the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, while launching a scorching attack on Mr. Jonathan.
In a three-page statement signed by a spokesperson, Mr. Gbomo, MEND said it endorsed and fully support Mr. Buhari, after careful consideration of the state of the nation.
The group said the decision to support the APC presidential candidate stems from the pathetic level the Jonathan administration has brought the country.
“This is a president that told Nigerians to their faces that he does not ‘give a damn’ when asked to declare his assets. A requirement that is constitutional on assuming the office of the President,” wrote Mr. Gbomo.
“President Jonathan, since assuming office, has setup countless committees but none of the reports has ever been implemented. From the Nuhu Ribadu report to the KPMG and Fuel Subsidy reports, just to mention a few.
“How can Nigerians expect a highly corrupt person like Goodluck Jonathan to fight corruption when he believes that stealing is not corruption, as he shamelessly told the Nation?
“He has proven beyond all reasonable doubt, his inability to tackle corruption or prosecute a single government official in his six (6) years in office.”
According to him, MEND finds Mr. Jonathan’s recent plan to fight corruption “laughable”, saying it not only smacked of ignorance but also shows how stupid the president thinks Nigerians are.
“A president that had six years to tackle corruption but choose to shield corrupt government officials and also partake in looting the nation’s resources, MEND argued, lacks the temerity to say his has a plan to fight corruption,” the group said.
“We re-state our disregard and lack of confidence in President Goodluck Jonathan. Rather than address the perennial issues in the country responsible for his administrations failures, he is concentrating government funds in a campaign of misinformation intended to hoodwink Nigerians who, unfortunately for him, are now wiser and smarter than he is.
“Goodluck Jonathan’s actions, utterances and arrogance prove that he is totally disconnected with the situation facing the ordinary Nigerian and completely out of touch with reality,” MEND indicated.
MEND, with roots in the oil-rich Niger Delta, stood as the face of a militant struggle against the Nigerian government for years, launching attacks on oil installations, and confronting government forces.
The violence largely ended after the government offered amnesty to fighters in the region who said they were pushing for greater share of oil and gas resources in the region, although the government said the claim was a mere cover for criminality.
To date, MEND has not formally accepted the amnesty offer.
The group blames Mr. Jonathan for the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of its leader, Henry Okar, by the South African government. Mr. Okar is serving a 24-year term in South Africa.
The militant group commended Mr. Buhari for planning to scrap the office of the First Lady if elected president, saying that apart from serving as the conduit for plunder, the office is irrelevant, fraudulent and unconstitutional.
Mr. Gbomo noted how Mrs. Jonathan narrowly escaped being charged to court for attempting to launder stolen money to the United Kingdom, barely a few months after the husband was sworn in as president.
He said a former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, failed to escape the long hands of the law and was arrested, prosecuted and jailed in the UK for the same offence Mrs. Jonathan got a reprieve.
Mr. Gbomo lampooned Mrs. Jonathan for her initial criticism of the BringBackOurGirls campaigners and accused both the president and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for continuously exploiting national tragedies for political gains.
He said the party and the government twisted the Boko Haram insurgency for political gains while also exploiting regional and religious sentiments as strategy to cover up their failure to rein in the bloody group.
MEND said the Niger Delta region has experienced excruciating poverty since Mr. Jonathan, an indigene of the area, became Nigeria’s president.
While multinational oil firms have continuously exposed the region to worst levels of pollution and environmental degradation, MEND said the president has failed to openly condemn such criminal acts or sanction irresponsible oil firms.
It accused corrupt government officials and those it described as “pot-bellied generals” as well as the military Joint Task Force and the Nigerian Navy for aiding the multi-billion dollar oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
The group said the once respected Nigerian Army has been reduced to a ragtag army by the Boko Haram insurgents, stating “It can only take a bold and courageous man like General Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the insecurity and oil theft plaguing the nation.”
“The Niger Delta region has the Ministry of the Niger Delta, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP and the largest percentage in oil revenue allocation, yet the region has nothing to show for all these due to a very corrupt government and systems in place.
“We are confident that a General Mohammadu Buhari presidency would probe these agencies and divert all stolen revenue back to the development of the region and Nigeria as a whole,” Mr. Gbomo had stated.