By Emma Amaize & Perez Brisibe
KIAGBODO—THERE was a visible crack in the Pan Niger Delta People’s Congress, PNDPC, yesterday, as the National Coordinator, Chief Mike Loyibo; Secretary, Professor Benjamin Okaba, and traditional ruler of Ogulagha Kingdom, Delta State, HRM Joseph Timiyan, abandoned the group for the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF.
Along with the foremost National President of the Ijaw National Council, INC, Professor Christopher Dime; Chief Prefugha Karawei; Chief Wellington Bobo; Chief Willima Borme and Chief D. S. P. Oyadonghan, they visited the National Leader of PANDEF, Senator Edwin Kiagbodo, at his Kiagbodo country home in Delta State, to announce the disintegration of PNDPC and their return to PANDEF.
However, the National Leader of PNDPC, HM Charles Ayemi-Botu, who spoke on the exit of the members, dismissed it as a non-issue, saying “the statement credited to Mike Loyibo and co-travellers is totally unfounded; they lack conscience and it is backstabbing and betrayal of trust and could best be described as a palace coup by some disgruntled members due to pecuniary overtures.
“It is reminiscent of the proverbial dog that returned to lick what it had vomited. It is good riddance and the Congress will meet shortly and address the media accordingly.”
Loyibo told Clark: “We have come to work under our leader in PANDEF. We have agreed that the only way to make progress is to be united and also decided that from today, there is nothing like PNPDC anymore, but one umbrella body of PANDEF under the leadership of Chief Edwin Clark and I am speaking for the entire body of PNPDC.
“You know that when divided we cannot achieve development for our people; hence we have decided to collapse PNPDC and work in unity under PANDEF to achieve development for Niger Delta.
“I formed PNPDC; I was the Convener and National Coordinator. You would recall that when the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, came, they made me the leader.
“This is the National Secretary, Professor Benjamin Okaba, and we have other persons here too. So when we tell you that we are back together again, we mean business.”
Welcoming the former PNDPC members back to PANDEF, Chief Clark asserted: “The Niger Delta is not inferior to any other region in the country. In every community, you are bound to disagree to agree and that is the basis for democracy.
“We have now met and decided to come, work together, move together and use this opportunity to advice the Federal Government to see us as one and not do anything to create division among us.
“Pan Niger Delta Forum is not an Ijaw affair. People should not use Ijaw-Ijaw to discredit us; we are for everybody in the Niger Delta and whatever is happening in the region, we should all work together and not to allow anybody, either the Federal Government or any other organisation, to disrupt us.
“It is not true that there are plans to disrupt the tomorrow’s (today) meeting. This negotiations have been going on before now and meetings summoned by Alaowei Bozimo and T. K. Ogoriba were held in Warri, Abuja and other places.
“We have settled and we all will be in the meeting tomorrow (today). You will remember that we held one meeting in Port Harcourt.
“After that meeting, our young men, who gave us the mandate to negotiate on their behalf for the past one year, came out to say that they would resume hostilities, and we believed that any hostility in the Niger Delta will affect all of us and we said please hold on.”
Even RNDA supports us—Loyibo
Reacting to what Clark said, Loyibo clarified: “Even the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers are in agreement with us coming together. Like what our leader said, it is not about Tuesday’s meeting.
“You would be seeing all of us in the meeting as PANDEF members. From today, there would be no division anymore. We are PANDEF members, we will work to advance the Niger Delta, and that is what we stand for.”
Former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, said: “Pere Ayemi-Botu is a king we respect in the Niger Delta. There were grievances that led to the position he took; it is that position that has been resolved and no king, however high, can work alone.
“My prayer is that I hope he comes tomorrow (today) because I spent about three months in this peace-building process, visited him in his palace over three times. In addition, the Pere of Ogulagha Kingdom was there when we were working on this process. He is here with us as well as others.”