By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
BAYELSA—TWO Niger Delta monarchs named by a coalition of Niger Delta militant groups as members of the Pan Niger Delta Peoples’ Congress, PNDPC, a new platform to take over leadership of the region from the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, led by Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, rejected their appointment.
The monarchs are Ebenanaowei of Boma Kingdom, Bayelsa State, HRM King Joshua Igbugburu and Ebenanowei of Ogulagha Kingdom, Delta State, HRM Joseph Timiyan.
Also the pioneer chairman of Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, Chief Wellington Okrika, rejected his nomination.
However, ex-Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Olisa Imegwu, said he was aware of his nomination, while the secretary of NDPC, Professor Benjamin Okaba, accepted his selection.
In its reaction, the coalition of militants, led by the leader of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, self-styled “Major General” Johnmark Ezonbi, withdrew the nomination of the trio.
The militants, yesterday, announced a former national chairman of Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, His Majesty Charles Ayemi-Botu, alias Lion of the Niger, as the leader of PNDPC, with mandate to hold further dialogue with the Federal Government.
HM Ayemi-Botu, the paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, Delta State, is a member of Clark-headed PANDEF. It was not known at press time if he had withdrawn his membership.
HRM King Joshua Igbugburu, told Vanguard: “I was not consulted, I do not know who masterminded it and I think that before anything of this nature is done, there should be discussion, and there should be a roundtable.”
He said Chief Clark remains the leader of the Niger Delta region and had not done anything wrong to warrant his removal. So, there is no reason to pull him down.
Contacted, the traditional ruler of Ogulagha Kingdom, Delta State, HRM Joseph Timiyan, said: “You are just telling me. Where has it been published? I am just hearing it from you.”
The royal father said he had been involved with others, over the years, in a peaceful agitation, including meetings with the Presidency, on how to improve the lots of the region and will continue to be involved in any enterprise to advance the course of the region, but not with violence.
‘I wasn’t consulted’
For Chief Okrika, also named as member of PNDPC, “I was not consulted by anybody before they put my name in the list.
“I am saying that I am not part of it, nobody should drag my name into it.
“Chief Clark is the Convener/Leader of PANDEF, the umbrella group for monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of the Niger Delta and also the leader of Niger Delta, nobody is contesting that.”
Founding Head, Media and Publicity of NPDC, Mr. Hendrick Opukeme, also distanced himself from it, saying “although, majority of the younger men, who were left out in the PANDEF meeting with acting President, were totally unhappy with overbearing Chief Clark in the activities of PANDEF, there was never a time the CWC of NDPC took the decision to engage the media.”
Convener and Coordinator of Niger Delta Peoples’ Congress, NDPC, Chief Loyibo, hitherto named as leader of PNDPC, is designated as Coordinator in the new leadership arrangement.
He was confirmed, yesterday, by the Convener of the militants’ coalition, “Major General” Ezonbi.
In the new order, HM Ayemi-Botu is the new Niger Delta leader on PNDPC platform.
Other leaders of PNDPC are HRM Archanga Effiong Bassey, Akwa Ibom State; Gbenemene Bua II, Ogoni, Rivers State, HRH King Suanu Baridam; former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva; Chief Paul Evwierhoma and Professor Patrick Mouboghare.
The militants’ coalition, including Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, led by Ezonbi; Niger Delta Revolutionary Council; Niger Delta Supreme Egbesu Fighters; Niger Delta Red Scorpion Fighters; Niger Delta Youth Mandate for Justice; Niger Delta Liberation Force; Niger Delta Fighters for Resource Control; Niger Delta Fighters for Urhobo Resource Control and Bakassi People’s Liberation Force, insisted, yesterday, that PANDEF can no longer speak for the Niger Delta region.