Whether South-South, South-East or South West is a different matter entirely
Endorses ‘Asaba Declaration’ of Southern Governors
Blasts Senate President, northern leaders’ ridiculous comments on restructuring
By Emma Amaize
PAN Niger-Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of monarchs, leaders, and stakeholders of the coastal states of Niger-Delta at a virtual meeting, today, resolved that it is non-negotiable, a Southerner, whether from the South-South, South-East or South-West, must take over from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
While throwing its weight behind the Asaba Declaration of Southern Governors, the regional body in a communique by the National Leader, Chief (Dr.) E. K. Clark and National Chairman, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, restated their stand on restructuring, urging the National Assembly to ameliorate the Electoral Act before the 2023 general elections, as anything contrary would be obnoxious.
PANDEF also condemned the illogical comments of Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan and provoking expressions of some northern elements against the decisions of the Southern governors on the restructuring of the country and the banning of open grazing.
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On Presidency, it maintained emphatically: “Presidency must rotate to the south in 2023 at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s two tenures of eight years. It is non-negotiable, a Southerner must succeed President Buhari. Whether the Southerner would come from the South-South, South-East, or South West is a different matter entirely.”
The communique read: “Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) held a general assembly, the highest decision making organ of the body, on Monday, 17th May 2021; to appraise the state of the nation, particularly, as it concerns the worsening security situation; the general disaffection in the country and increasing agitations for secession; continued neglect of the Niger Delta region by the federal government; the national discuss on the restructuring of the country; and the recent meeting of southern governors in Asaba, Delta state.”
“In attendance at the general assembly, which was virtual, were the national leader, Chief Dr E. K. Clark, OFR CON; members of the Board of Trustees, members of National and State Executive Committees, as well as selected key stakeholders of the region. After extensive deliberations, which lasted over three hours, the General Assembly made the following resolutions.
“PANDEF wholly supports the decisions taken by the Southern governors at their meeting in Asaba, Delta State. Further, described the “May 11” meeting of the southern governors as historic, and commended them for standing with the people.
“Applauded the solidarity demonstrated by Southern Senators and Members of the House of Representatives in promptly supporting the resolutions of the Southern Governors. And called for the sustenance of cooperation among political leaders of the South, especially, of the south-south geopolitical zone, including Governors, Cabinet Ministers, and Members of the National Assembly.
“Condemned strongly the irrational comments of the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, and the provocative expressions of some northern elements, against the decisions of the Southern governors on the restructuring of the country and the banning of open grazing.
“Deplored the worsening security situation in the country with expanding activities of Boko Haram, audacious raids and kidnapping of innocent students by bandits, heartless activities of Fulani herder and the recent spate of attacks on the Police, and called on the Federal Government to live up to its constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and properties of Citizens.
“Further condemned the spate of attacks on Police formations and personnel in some states in the south-south and south-east. Urged those behind the awful actions to stop forthwith. Further called for a thorough and unbiased investigation to determine those truly behind the attacks.
“However, took exception to the singling out of the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones, by the federal government, for special security measures over the insecurity situation, and implored the federal government to shun predilections in tackling the security challenges across the country.
“Restated its position on the restructuring of the country and insisted that Nigeria cannot continue in the present flawed trajectory. That restructuring is now not only a vital necessity but has become expedient for the survival of Nigeria. Thus, called on the federal government to heed the voice of reason, and, without any delay, institute a genuine dialogue process on the restructuring of the country, to stimulate peace, security, and development, before it is too late.
“Reiterated the call on the National Assembly to accelerate the amendment of the Electoral Act, with the inclusion of provisions for electronic voting, before the 2023 General Elections, to guarantee free, fair, and credible elections. That anything otherwise would be unacceptable.
“Further decried the continued neglect and abandonment of critical infrastructure projects in the Niger Delta Region by the Federal Government, such as the East-West Road, the Gas Revolution Industrial Park project in Ogidigben, Delta State, the Calabar – Ikot Ekpene Road, amongst several others.
“Again, noted with concern, the non-composition of a substantive Board and Management for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), for almost two years. Warned that the situation threatens the peace and stability of the Region, hence, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, promptly, constitute the Board and Management of the NDDC, in line with the Act establishing the Commission.
“Commended the people of the Niger Delta region, the youth in particular, for their earnest disposition and determination, to sustain the relative peace in the region, despite the trying times, and seeming provocations.
“Restated the commitment of the Niger Delta people to the unity of Nigeria, based on equity, fairness, and justice. Accordingly, PANDEF would sustain collaborations with similar groups and organizations in the country, to achieve national consensus on the thorny issues confronting the country.
“Also restated PANDEF’s resolve to engage with all critical stakeholders of the Niger Delta region, irrespective of political inclinations, in its efforts to foster unity, lasting peace, security and sustainable development of the Region, for the benefit of present and future generations,” the group asserted.