By Chioma Onuegbu – Uyo
National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd) has expressed concern that in recent times Nigerian students have not been speaking up for issues that affect their future, urging them to always stand up for the Niger Delta region and the country.
Nkanga who spoke while addressing the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS) led by the President, Comrade Danielson Akpan yesterday at his Uyo residence, stressed that he doesn’t expect them to pay scant attention to things that would affect their future.
His words, “You don’t hear things and just walk away because anything that is done or not done now will affect your tomorrow.
We’ve kept quiet for too long. And sometimes silence could mean betrayal. So there is a time to come out of silence and that time is now for you.
“Nigeria is a place that is well blessed by God, in both human and natural resources, but we have failed to manage those resources properly, and so we go through this cycle of frustration.
“Coming from the Niger Delta region, I always say if I eat crumbs from the table my children will never eat crumbs from the table, they will not eat from under the table, they will eat from the top of the table with every other Nigerian. We must build a nation that offers equal opportunity to everybody”
Nkanga said it was unfortunate that some people either out of mischief or ignorance have refused to understand the issue of restructuring, and dialogue PANDEF decided to adopt to seek justice and make Nigerians understand the plight of the Niger Delta region.
He recalled that some people from the region like Isaac Boro, Ken Saro Wiwa and Odi community had paid the supreme sacrifice while seeking justice for the region, stressing, “So if they did that you cannot afford to keep quiet. You must stand up for Niger Delta, you must stand up for this country.
” The inseparable twin of economic injustice is social injustice. There is no way you can have social injustice and hope to have economic justice, that is what has happened to the people of Niger Delta.
“Others are given bridges, rail lines, flyovers, but in our own case here what is given to us as our own share is the contaminants from oil exploration. It is painful. So apart from the 16point agenda of PANDEF, we stand very solidly on restructuring.
“In 2014 there was a national conference that brought out over 600 recommendations on issues affecting Nigeria,all the decisions were taken by consensus. Why are Nigerian students not making efforts to even know what these recommendations are?
“Restructuring is fundamental, not only to us in this region, but even to those who deny that they don’t know the definition today. It means justice and if we want Nigeria to make an impact in the global scene we must start with justice in the land.
“Since after the civil war I have not seen a child with Kwashiorkor until I saw one in Bayelsa and that is an oil-producing state. People are going blind because of gas flaring in Niger Delta. These are issues that we must confront, these are issues staring us in the face.
“Hate speech or no hate speech, we cannot just keep quiet. So if my generation is not doing well, I expect you to talk about it because it affects you.
“I recall what President Trump said a few days ago that in America ‘we don’t worship governments, we worship God’. In Nigeria, it is the reverse. We worship governments and don’t worship God, that is why we are where we are today.
“When you want peace so that you can have development, I think you must also look for Justice so that there will be peace. If you think it is going to be better the way we are going, it is just wishful thinking”
In his remarks earlier, the NANS president Danielson Akpan expressed their resolve and readiness to work with PANDEF to actualize its 16-point agenda and also support agitations for the relocation of headquarters of International Oil Companies,(IOC’s) to their operational bases, and the clean up of the polluted areas in the region as a result of activities of oil companies.
He thanked PANDEF for what it has been doing to secure the future for the young generation, adding, “That is why we have resolved to join you in your agitations. The time for us to be part of the agitation is now. We are going to mobilize our members to join PANDEF, and governors of the region to push for the actualization of the 16-point agenda.
“We are also going to reach out to our leaders at the center, from the president, Vice president, the Ministers especially our sons, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, and others. We are going to reach out, talk to them to be actively involved and to use their positions to make the agitations come to fruition”