…N’Delta‘ll only support pro-restructuring political party – PANDEF chair
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Harris-Okon Emmanuel and Chioma Onuegbu
UYO- PRESIDENTIAL Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, have expressed concern over the increase in the use of security agencies by the Federal Government to allegedly stoke crises in some states of the country intimidate opponents.
They spoke at the meeting of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of traditional rulers, leaders and stakeholders of coastal states of Niger-Delta, weekend, at Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
While Alhaji Abubakar was specific on the growing antics in Akwa Ibom and Rivers states, Clark mentioned Bayelsa, Ekiti and Osun states.
The former Vice President, represented by his running mate, Dr. Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, said while addressing PANDEF members at Banquet Hall, Government House, Uyo, that the Federal Government was using security agencies to abet and aid what is wrong and listed Akwa Ibom and Rivers as states being used as guinea pigs, adding, “And nobody is talking, when you talk, you become an enemy’’
He also said there was nothing on ground in Niger Delta region where the resources of the country were derived, promising that if elected, his administration will focus on turning things around and ensuring that the country is governed by the rule of law.
His words, “Niger Delta is where the resources are and when you travel around, you are not able to see anything on ground. In this country you must insist and there is no reason in being fearful. We are committed to building a better Nigeria and unify Nigeria. We will focus on turning things for the better.”
Alhaji Abubakar, who reaffirmed his commitment to restructure the country if voted into power come 2019, maintained that restructuring the country was the only way to go to ensure the rapid and sustainable development of the states in particular and the country at large.
“I am only joining to say that we need true federalism and we need it urgently, it will make Nigeria work. There is no country in the world that things are working as it is working in Nigeria. We must tell our leaders the truth and we must demand that they do the right thing,” he stated.
Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel in his comments, said, ‘’we want the country to have true federalism so that we will not have all these problems we are having. If we have a state Police, it will be more law abiding and not this war saw they are talking about.”
“They are using this restructuring to intimidate us in the Niger Delta. Everything is about politics and when this 2019 comes and goes, what will we do again? Everything is on partisanship. It should not be. Even though they have sounded the drum of war, this state is still the most peaceful one in the country,’’ he said.
Leader of PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark Clark frowned at what he described as increasing trend of desecrating the national institutions, particularly the Army and Police by using them for political gains, noting that certain persons in political class have continued to drag the Police to become surrogates in achieving their nefarious political ends.
‘’That is why in a place like Bayelsa State, eight Commissioners of Police have been posted and reposted in a matter of three months. Here in Akwa Ibom state, we have continued to see the overtly partisan role which the police play.
“In Ekiti, and Osun elections, we all saw how men of the Nigeria Police Force were being openly used to intimidate political opponents and in some cases, directly perpetuating acts which are by all standards violate every existing electoral laws’’, he said.
The elder statesman, however, expressed confidence in the candidacy of Atiku Abubakar, saying, ‘’There is no going back on our support, which is informed by the fact that some of the ideals which you stand for are what we believe and insist upon. These ideals are founded on the objectives of building a new Nigeria.”
‘’Our expectation is that your government after winning the election will mainstream the Niger Delta and its people, both in your environment and in your master plan for the socio-economic progress of our country,” he said.
Clark equally commended the Akwa Ibom governor for his performances in just three and half years, noting, ‘’those who do not seem to appreciate this are only chasing the shadows.” He assured the governor that that the people of the region were strongly behind him.
While welcoming delegates, National Chairman of PANDEF, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga warned that the region would not vote for any candidate that is anti- restructuring, noting that the Forum was working in tandem with other regional bodies to ensure that the best was achieved for the country.
‘’Whether you are PDP, APC or, APGA, if your candidate does not believe in restructuring, we will not vote for you in Niger Delta. We want to see the timeline and anybody who does not believe on restructuring wants to reap where he did not sow. I believe every region has something to live,’’ he said.
He added: “What is happening today in Nigeria, if we are doing well as a nation the Niger Delta is very much involved. If we suffering, the suffering is more in Niger Delta, because of our contribution to the economy of Nigeria, it is where the Niger Delta goes that the nation should go.”
Nkanga accused the federal government of foot dragging on the issues affecting the Niger Delta, stating that the 16-point agenda agreed upon with the government were yet to be implemented.