ABUJA—PAN-NIGER Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of the Niger Delta region under the leadership Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, gave the Federal Government an ultimatum for November 1, 2017 to put in place a mechanism of addressing the 16-point agenda raised by the body.

According to PANDEF, failure on the part of the government to discuss with the people of Niger Delta before the given date, it will pull out of all peace negotiations, henceforth, with the Federal Government.

Chief Edwin Clark

Addressing newsmen, yesterday, at his Asokoro residence, Abuja after an Extra- Ordinary Consultative Meeting of the forum, Clark, who noted that the people of Niger Delta were not trouble makers or agitators, but fighting for their rights and against marginalisation, said the people will no longer accept a situation where they are treated as second class citizens.

Flanked by some prominent members of PANDEF such as King Alfred Diete Spiff, Senator Stella Omu, Senator Bassey Ewa- Henshaw, Dr. Alfred Mulade, Chief Richard Lamai, Kayode Ajulo, among others, Chief Clark  said  though Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had given a firm commitment after his visit to the region, the government has on its part failed to take steps towards the implementation.

Chief Clark said: “I wish to urge the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, implement the pronouncements made by the acting President during his fact-finding visits to the Niger Delta region and to set up, without delay, the Federal Government Dialogue Team to engage PANDEF towards resolving the pending issues contained in the forum’s 16-point demand on behalf of the people of the Niger Delta region, by, or before November 1, 2017 (one year anniversary of our meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari).

“Human endurance has a limit which one cannot predict what the outcome will be. We submitted a 16-point demand to Mr. President on November 1, 2016 and we had expected that by its next anniversary, the 16-point agenda would have been comprehensively sorted out.

“If, at the expiration of the November 1, 2017 ultimatum, the Federal Government fails and/or refuses to accede to these lawful and legitimate demands of the Niger Delta people, PANDEF may consider pulling out of the ongoing peace process in the Niger Delta.

“Unfortunately, however, it is a matter of regret to note that the efforts of PANDEF to help Nigeria climb out of recession through a stable oil and gas production regime, have not been met with tangible reciprocal action by the Federal Government.

“Indeed, through PANDEF intervention, the people of the Niger Delta region have demonstrated tremendous patriotism and goodwill towards the current administration. This is despite our being placed at a disadvantaged and marginalised position, even on issues concerning the oil and gas industry.”

The Niger Delta elders, who rejected the new board of the NNPC against the backdrop of the nine-member board, of which six are from the North, two from South and one from South-West, appointment of Chief Executives of NNPC subsidiaries, selection of indigenous oil operators and marginal oil fields operators who are mostly from outside the Niger Delta region, said: “I have been beset with statistics on the level of marginalisation against indigenes of host communities in the Niger Delta in the area of indigenous oil and gas concessions and their directors/shareholders.

“I am shocked to discover that virtually all the oil blocks or marginal oil fields in the country are owned by northerners, and their counterparts in other parts of Nigeria, who are mostly South-Westerners and South Easterners. I have a duty to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the marginalisation and neglect of the region.”

Listing all the affected NNPC board members, heads of its subsidiaries and oil block allocations, he said: “From the above records, it is shown clearly that the people of the Niger Delta, who produced the commodity unjustifiably, suffer degradation and the hazards, are not involved in the process.”

“We advocate strongly that there must be a deliberate review to involve qualified indigenes of the oil and gas host communities in top and middle level positions as well as in the allocation of oil literate blocks/marginal fields in the oil and gas industry. It is ridiculous that the people of oil producing communities in the Niger Delta are not millionaires, not to talk of billionaires, in the oil industry.”

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.