Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and a former Governor of Abia, Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu, have been listed among a seven-man team to lead the negotiation between the Niger Delta Avengers and the Federal Government.
Other members of the team are Prof. Steve Odi-Owei, Etubom (Dr.) Anthony Ani, Nalaguo Chris Alagoa, Chief (Mrs.) Alice Mobolaji Osomo, and Mr. Inienimi Ballantyne Agiri, who has been acting as spokesman for the group. The committee is expected negotiate on behalf of a faction of the militant group in the eastern and central Niger Delta.
A statement signed by Agiri, who speaks for a faction of NDA, representing the eastern and central parts of the region on Saturday, said that Soyinka will serve as adviser to the committee.
Agiri, who also spoke to our correspondent on telephone, said that the list was not exhaustive as other people outside the shores of Nigeria had been contacted and had shown interest in being observers in the dialogue process.
He said the Archbishop of the Canterbury, Justin Weldy, a former Ghanaian President, John Kufor and a few others, would also be consulted.
Soyinka was recently quoted as urging the Federal Government to open dialogue with the militant groups, which had been agitating for resource control for the Niger Delta region.
Attempts to get the Nobel laureate were not successful on Saturday but when contacted Kalu welcomed the idea but said he had not been formally informed by the Avengers that he will negotiate for them.
He said, “Nigeria is our own and we must go on the path of peace. It is the right anything to do if they want to negotiate, I hope the president will accept that.
“I will negotiate for them if the President agrees for us to negotiate for them. I cannot go without concurrent agreement with the President saying that we should negotiate.”
Osomo also said that she had not been formally consulted but expressed her willingness to be part of the team in national interest.
Meanwhile, Alagoa, who was in the list, confirmed the development in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Saturday.
He said that he was not a member of the group but was contacted and had accepted to be a member of the team if only it would bring a solution to militancy in the Niger Delta.
Alagoa said that he was also told that Soyinka and Kalu had been contacted, adding that he was also informed that the list was not yet exhausted.
He said, I was approached and they said that they have confidence in me and few other people to lead the dialogue. If they are authentic to give me the chance to dialogue, it is okay.” (Punch)