THERE was a flurry of activities during the week in the Niger Delta, as concerned leaders and stakeholders, within and outside the country, weighed in with the brouhaha between the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, led by the former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, and Pan Niger Delta People’s Congress, PNDPC, steered by past national chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, His Majesty Pere Charles Ayemi-Botu, alias Lion of the Niger.
Militant groups, including the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA and coalition of nine militant groups, which stoked the controversy, Reformed Egbesu Fraternity, REF, and Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders, NDCL, and other stakeholders, have taken sides in the hullabaloo.
So far, PANDEF has maintained that it was the authentic voice of the region and was not at war with any group; while PNDPC boasted that it was not a parallel organization to PANDEF as being insinuated, but acting on a mandate it received to pilot the affairs of the region.
Disturbing alarm From the cacophony, which relapsed to the RNDA threatening on Monday in a communiqué by its leader, self-styled “Major General” Johnmark Ezonbi, after a meeting on the Benin River, Delta State, to resume attack on oil facilities in the region if the Federal Government continued discussion with PANDEF, it was palpable that the matter has detoured precariously.
Bozimo, Kachikwu, others intervene Saturday Vanguard learned that the former Minister of Police Affairs and top leader of PANDEF, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo is leading a troubleshooting collection, which has scheduled a meeting between selected PANDEF and PNDPC leaders in Delta State.
Bozimo, who confirmed that a meeting was in the offing when contacted, said there was no need for the people of the region to be at daggers drawn when they were almost at the end of the tunnel, adding that he was in touch with both Senator Clark and HM Ayemi-Botu on the best way to resolve the impasse.
PNDPC consulting – Ayemi-Botu
Contacted, HM Ayemi-Botu, said: “The PNDPC was given a mandate by the boys in the creeks and other stakeholders in the Niger Delta, so the leadership will consult with them and others to know their position, as they have rejected PANDEF.”
“Some people, including Alaowei Bozimo and Elder Ogoriba, have tried to reach me but I have not been around to meet with them, so we are still consulting in PNDPC. It is not a thing I can tell you at the moment that I am privy to a truce meeting or not.”
A top security source told Saturday Vanguard that: “the Federal Government is disturbed by the threat by militants to resume fresh attacks and efforts are being made to reach out to the leaders of the groups to sustain the present peace in the region, while the problems are being addressed.”
Boroh meets PANDEF, PNDPC reps
Nevertheless, Boroh held a preliminary meeting with some representatives of PANDEF, PNDPC and some Niger Delta youth leaders, where the cause of disagreement was discussed, but we could not establish the resolution. However, Coordinating Secretary of PANDEF, Dr. Alfred Mulade, who attended the meeting with Boroh disclosed that some of the aggrieved persons, having realized their mistake, reached out to the national leader, Chief Clark to apologize and beat a retreat. He said the elder statesman has accepted their apologies and was waiting for them to return to the fold as promised.
PANDEF, a unifying front – Danuemigha
National president of Pan Niger Delta Youth Leaders Forum, PNDYLF, and former governorship aspirant in Bayelsa State, Mr. Famous Danuemigha, who attended the meeting convened by Boroh, in response to our inquiry, said: “I strongly believe that there are many bodies with some vision for the struggle for a better Niger Delta, but PANDEF is a unifying front, which is faced with a normal starting tussle. However, we are brothers. I believe that the issues behind the slight misunderstanding are being sorted out and also going forward, we must consult with other stakeholders.”
We’ve a firm mandate- Loyibo Convener and Coordinator of PNPDC, Chief Mike Loyibo, in an electronic mail to this newspaper, asserted: “We must reemphasize that PNDPC owes its emergence to the clarion call by the peace- loving but suffering masses of the Niger Delta region, who are frustrated by the failure of the Federal Government and the various ethnic organizations in the region to address their age- long plight, the PNDPC is not a parallel organization to PANDEF.”
He explained: “The recent proclamation of the coalition of Niger Delta agitators was a reflection of the people’s assessment of current developments and the urgent need for change in the leadership and style of engagement deployed by PANDEF and the replacement with a better platform made up of people with outstanding profile of credibility, doggedness and genuine commitment and love for the masses of the region.”
“If not for self-interest, why should Pa Clark discourage any other group in the region to even coexist with his? The PNDPC is taking the lead at this time following the withdrawal of the mandate given PANDEF and its subsequent disbandment by the youths and agitators in the region, who later gave the mandate to us. If you recall, these same men misled our brother, former President Goodluck Jonathan with wrong advice whereby his government could not address fundamental problems of our people,” Loyibo said.
We’re aware of peace moves but…
On the peace moves, he stated: “The PNDPC is a peaceful body and we will always allow initiatives that will bring about peace and development to our people. There have been peace moves by stakeholders and some prominent sons of the region. After a critical stakeholders’ meeting with the Special Adviser to the President/Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig Gen. P.T. Boroh (retd), he and Elder T.K. Ogoriba expressed their desire to mediate at a side meeting he had with me and Dr. Alfred Mulade, who represented Pa Clark. Elder T.K. Ogoriba came to me and briefed me of a proposed meeting of a few people on PNDPC side and Pa E.K. Clark’s side with other stakeholders in Warri. All stakeholders will be present, including Pa Clark and other members of the disbanded PANDEF. We have also accepted to be part of it. The meeting will afford us the opportunity to tell ourselves the truth. We are not a parallel organization to PANDEF; rather, we are a child of necessity as a result of age- long failed leadership. After the meeting in Warri, we will come out stronger.