By Ochuko Akuopha
OLEH—NIGER Delta Consultative Assembly, NIDCA, yesterday, told the Federal Government to suspend engagements with all claimants to the mandate of Niger Delta’s represen-tation until stakeholders from the oil-producing ethnic nationalities meet and agree on an acceptable umbrella platform for the region.
It warned that other stakeholders in the Niger Delta will not accept a “situation where a group of persons will shove Chief E. K. Clark aside and install another Ijaw forum and leadership for the region.
“With the shameful face-off between the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and Pan Niger Delta Peoples Congress, PNDPC, the legitimate struggle of the Niger Delta people for justice is being brought to ridicule in the eyes of right-thinking men and women in Nigeria.
“The cacophony of voices arrogating the mandate of representation of the region to themselves,” NIDCA, in a statement by its Chairman, Chief Fred Obe, said: “The rest of the region was taken aback when a group of persons from the same Ijaw ethnic nationality as Chief Clark executed a coup d’etat against him.
“The rest of the region accepted PANDEF as a mouthpiece of the region largely because of Pa Clark and a handful of other credible leaders, otherwise PANDEF would have been roundly rejected at formation because of the undemocratic way it came into existence and it is unrepresentative and lopsided architecture.
“At formation, persons who, in the opinion of the convener, were leaders of the region were invited to form PANDEF as against giving the privilege to the concerned ethnic nationalities to nominate their representatives to the maiden meeting and the subsequent forming of PANDEF.
“This has occasioned a grave injustice against almost all the other ethnic nationalities in the region as most of them did not have their first 11 in that body. This injustice saw the Ijaw ethnic nationality dominating all aspect of PANDEF from the number of persons it has in the body to the Ijaw occupying all strategic organs of the body.
“Pa Clark, an Ijaw, is the leader of PANDEF, while another Ijaw, Alfred Mulade, is the Coordinating Secretary.
“The rest of the region accepted this blatant injustice because of Pa Clark, who has over the years paid his dues in the Niger Delta struggle for justice.
“I know HRM Ayeni Botu as a real and authentic royal activist for the region, but if Pa Clark were to be retired from Niger Delta leadership by the Ijaw themselves, then the leadership must go to another tribe in the region.
“The Niger Delta struggle is not about one tribe alone.
On Niger Delta Republic
“We in the Niger Delta have been crying about marginalisation by the Arewa North and others, but it is becoming clearer by the day that we are also not our brother’s keeper in this region.
“This is why any misguided talk of a Niger Delta Republic can never see the light of day. In fact, some of us will fight, if necessary, to stay in a restructured Nigeria against anybody talking of secession in this region.
“If on the other hand the Almighty God were to dismember Nigeria, there still will be no Niger Delta Republic, rather there will be many republics because of the overbearing attitude of some of our selfish Niger Delta brothers.
“So, on this issue of mouthpiece for the region, the way forward is for stakeholders to get together to give a proper mandate to PANDEF and also cause it to be democratised and truly representative, if Niger Delta people were still to accept it as the umbrella platform.
“If that did not work out, then a brand new, truly representative and democratic platform will be formed to drive the struggle to the next level.”