By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
THE Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, an umbrella group of monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of Niger Delta, weekend, voiced concern that the Federal Government had not sufficiently demonstrated its enthusiasm for dialogue since it met with President Muhammadu Buhari, November 1, in Abuja.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting in Asaba, Delta State, the group, led by former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, asked the Federal Government to set up its negotiation team if it was truly committed to the peace process in the region.
Before now, it was the Federal Government that fingered Niger Delta militants as not being ready for talks, an accusation the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, dismissed, but the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, NDGJM, owned up, saying it would contact the government when it was ready.
PANDEF, which reiterated its avowed resolve and commitment to dialogue as the preferred means of resolution of the crisis in the region, however, demanded an immediate halt to military operations in the region, contending that it was not a means to resolving the lingering crisis, arising from age-long neglect and injustice in the region.
The meeting, attended by Chief Clark, co-chairman of the Central Working Committee, CWC, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, academician and scholar, Prof B I C Ijomah, former military governor of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Ndogesit Nkanga (retd.), Ambassador Godknows Igali, former national chairman of Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, HRM Charles Ayemi-Botu, frowned at the emergence of Operation Crocodile Smile, Operation Python Dance and others, saying: “It can only exacerbate the agitations, human rights abuses and overall insecurity in the region.”