By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
A socio-political organization in the nation’s oil-rich region of South-South, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has raised the alarm that some federal government appointees are being used by forces outside the region to terminate projects being executed by contractors from the region.
PANDEF also said that if nothing was done to arrest the alleged unjust termination of critical projects handled by Niger Deltans in the region, it would lead to massive unemployment which could cause youths restiveness.
This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday by the National Chairman of PANDEF, and former military Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd).
Air Commodore Nkanga in the statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson on Sunday in Abuja, said that the reality was that thousands of youths from the region and other parts of the country must have become jobless as a result of the contracts that have been reportedly terminated unjustly.
According to the statement, such development would add to the already awful unemployment situation, and likely to increase cases of youth restiveness in the Region.
Advising the Federal political appointees front the region to stop bickering and witch-hunting of their brothers and sisters, PANDEF called for cooperation and synergy among them, insisting that lack of rightful cooperation among politicians from the South-South geopolitical zone was worsening the developmental disabilities of the region.
The statement read thus, “It became necessary to make this public appeal, partly, because of recent happenings in the nation’s polity, and the continued poor attention to issues of the region by the Federal Government.
“But, more particularly, because PANDEF has, lately, been inundated with worrying complaints of arbitrary termination of valid contracts of companies, in which Niger Deltans have a principal interest, in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government. And mainly, in ministries where the Ministers are also from the Niger Delta.
“If these complaints are true, then it is very unfortunate. We should not be working against ourselves, for whatever reasons. It is saddening that persons from the region are being used to perpetuate these insidious acts against the region. We are unaware of these occurrences in other parts of the country.
“We have advised the affected persons, who have come to us, to exercise patience and not seek redress in the law courts yet; while we make efforts to ascertain the facts of the matters and seek peaceful resolutions.
“Because the truth is that they do have the right to go to court if their contracts/projects were unlawfully terminated, especially in a manner that indicates vindictiveness and possible abuse of office by those concerned.
“PANDEF is quite disturbed by these circumstances; they are unhealthy and inimical to the socio-economic development of the region. As such we have decided to seek individual audiences with key political stakeholders, including Ministers, Members of the National Assembly, and Heads of federal MDAs from the Region, to discuss these concerns, and hopefully resolve them.”
Continuing, it said,”The reality is that thousands of youths from the region and other parts of the country must have become jobless as a result of the contracts that have been reportedly terminated unjustly. Thereby adding to the already awful unemployment situation, and likely to increase cases of youth restiveness in the Region.
“So, who are the actual losers in these situations? The region and the country, of course; and not necessarily the businessmen and women whose contracts/projects were terminated for whatever reason. And that’s the significant point to note!
“PANDEF had persistently called on the Governors of the region to work in synergy to boost security and economic activities in the region. But there is now, more than ever, even greater need for cooperation and synergy among the Governors, members of the National Assembly and Ministers from the Niger Delta, and with, particularly, the elites and business class of the region.
“We need to learn to work together, irrespective of political propensities and distinctions, to change the narrative of the Region for the benefit of present and future generations. We cannot afford to continue “as usual”, if we do, the consequences would be severe.
“The painful consummation is that while a few persons may continue to bolster their financial nests and political standings, the vast majority of the people of the Niger Delta Region would continue to wallow in deplorable economic states. One tree can never make a forest.
“Whereas others are maximally appropriating available opportunities to better their regions and their people, what we have continued to witness are situations whereby politicians from the region work at crossroads, and undercut one another. This is unsavoury and no longer acceptable.
“We would like to implore that intrigues and subjective interests should not be allowed to undermine the collective interest of the region and its people. The rest of the country is ahead of us on many fronts.
“Regrettably, it is resources from our region that sustain the nation but the developmental reality of the region remains contradictory. The lack of understanding amongst our political class, even amongst persons in the same political parties, is a contributory factor.
“We acknowledge that these unfortunate occurrences are not new and peculiar to the present gladiators. However, we cannot afford to continue in that damning trajectory. The destructive politics of slander and calumny for political edge, and the bickering, muckraking, and “pulling down” of one another, should cease.
“The truth is that to keep another down, you may also have to be down. And in that context, to large extent, the entire region remains down.”
The statement further added, “While PANDEF would continue to accentuate the gross neglect of the region by the federal government, and champion the cause for the needed attention and actions to reverse the situation, we cannot continue to overlook the internal political anomalies. That is why this appeal has become pertinent.
“It is important to remind sons and daughters of the Niger Delta region that the offices they occupy are held in trust for the people, because democracy is about the people.
“And therefore, we are further encouraging our political class to kindly recalibrate their approach to politics, and endeavour to use the good opportunities the Almighty God has graciously granted them for the good of the Niger Delta Region rather than being engaged in needless contestations with their fellow brothers and sisters. Nothing less is plausible!
“As we seek to advance personal goals in politics and even in business, let us all, young and old, great and mighty, small and big, from sunrise to sunset, east to west, from Akwa Ibom to Bayelsa, to Cross River, to Delta, to Edo, and to Rivers State, bear in mind that we are all one.
“Let us, therefore, be fair to one another, and work in synergy, to create value, and fast track the socio-economic development of our region.”
PANDEF advised that the interest of the Niger Delta region should come first in all they do as it was being practiced by politicians in other regions of the country, adding,” Let our mantra become, henceforth, Niger Delta first!
“We hope that all concerned would give conscientious contemplations to the matters herein highlighted, and act accordingly, in the overall interest of the Niger Delta region and Nigeria, our country.
“Posterity will not forgive us if we do otherwise.”