By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South & Perez Brisibe
KIAGBODO—Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, yesterday, rejected the plan by the Federal Government to set up cattle colonies across the country, saying that the Niger Delta region will not surrender its land for such purpose.
The group, at a meeting in Kiagbodo, Delta State, attended by royal fathers, political leaders and other representatives from the six states of the South-South region, presided by the National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, expressed solidarity with the people of Benue State and other parts of the country where communities have suffered untold hardship in the hands of Fulani herdsmen.
Former military governor of Akwa Ibom state, Air Commodore Ndongesit Nkanga (retd) was represented by Dr, Emmanuel Akpanabo.
N’Delta agitators warn Delta govt
Meanwhile, Niger Delta agitators, yesterday, fell out with the Delta State Government over its Monday announcement calling on Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, to submit their grievances to the Governor’s Office Annexe, Warri, or Deputy Governor’s Office, Asaba, for engagement, cautioning the state government to stop using the region’s agitation and predicament of the people to score cheap political points.
They also demanded an apology from the state government over the publication. But the Deputy Governor and Chairman of Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, whose committee made the announcement, rejected the demand for an apology, saying that it was not working at cross-purposes with the Federal Government, PANDEF and the agitators.
Secretary of the Committee and former president of the Ijaw Youth Council, Dr. Chris Ekiyor, also lambasted the agitators for their unbecoming request, saying that the deputy governor was once in the trenches and understood the Niger Delta struggle more than the latter-day entrants demanding apology.
The committee had on Monday pleaded with the members of the NDA who threatened to resume fresh attacks in the region ”to sheathe their swords and submit their grievances to the Governor’s Office Annexe, Warri or Deputy Governor’s Office, Government House, Asaba for engagement.”
Meantime, PANDAF, in a communique by Chief Clark, advised the Federal Government “to handle the sensitive matter of herdsmen killing farmers with tact and treat the issue of animal husbandry as commercial transaction, which should be left in the hands of relevant stakeholders.”
It noted with concern “the slow pace at which the Federal Government continues to handle matters pertaining to the Niger Delta, especially the implementation of the 16-point agenda submitted since the 1st of November 2016.”
It “condemned in particular, the continued refusal of international and national oil companies to show presence in the Niger Delta including moving their operational and administrative offices to the region.”
It also noted with grave concern “the continued delay in the completion of the East- West Road and the under-funding of its implementation,” expressing worry over the fact that “plans are being concluded to issue licences to modular refineries without corresponding participation from stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.”
It called on various Niger Delta people and communities, especially, the youths and various aggrieved groups “to continue to exercise patience and allow PANDEF and its other political leaders to continue dialogue with the Federal Government.
“We call on Niger Delta political leaders and leadership of intervention agencies such as NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to show greater accountability in managing resources allocated for various programmes.”
On the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PANDEF reaffirmed its confidence that the programme “is a veritable tool for maintaining peace in the region,” and has decided to send a delegation to the Federal Government to discuss issues pertaining to the Amnesty Programme and its continuation.
The group, in the communiqué, disclosed its plan to hold a summit on restructuring and congratulated the South-West for the successful holding of its mega-rally on restructuring in September, last year.
It also congratulated the people of the South- East and South-West for the ‘handshake’ across the Niger Summit” held in Enugu on January 15, 2018, inat which a delegation from the South-South also participated.
Consequently, it resolved to hold a mega rally on restructuring, March 24, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, with Prof. G.G Darah, as the chairman of the committee.
Meanwhile on the agitators’ face-off with Delta State Government, the agitators under the aegis of the 21st Century Youths of the Niger Delta, in a statement by their spokesperson, W O I Izon Ebi, said: “All agitators with conscience frown at the statement credited to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and his Deputy, Otuaro.
“This is not the time for personal political benefit or riding on the back of the plight of the Niger Delta people to score cheap political points. What happened to the agreement and implementation of the 16-point demand by PANDEF and the Federal Government’s 25-point palliatives agreed upon?
“Is the Delta State Government not appreciating the painstaking efforts and sacrifice of the leadership of PANDEF that led to the peace the Federal Government is enjoying to exploit our people the more with impunity?”