2023: It's non-negotiable, southerner must succeed Buhari — PANDEF 

…lIjaw group gives Sylva 4-day ultimatum to explain role in misleading Senate

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor,  South-South and Davies Iheamnachor

The Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, KAGOTE, a socio-cultural organisation in Ogoni, Rivers State, and Niger Delta Liberators, NDL, a militant group, yesterday, admonished  President Muhammadu Buhari to avert looming trouble in the oil region by upturning the injustice against host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, passed into law by the National Assembly.

This came as Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, yesterday, gave the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, four days to defend the allegation by Senator Seriake Dickson, representing Bayelsa West, that he (Sylva) misled the Senate into approving 3 per cent equity shares for the Host Communities Trust Fund in PIB, instead of five per cent senators had earlier agreed.

They described the three per  cent allocation to the Host Communities Trust Fund as injustice to the Niger Delta, saying President Buhari should not push the people to the wall.

PANDEF, speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said: “It is unfortunate that the Nigerian state has continued to see that Niger Deltan people as a set of people they can exploit and neglect and we urged President Buhari to correct this injustice to the people of the oil region.

“All the projects since independence from Adaka Boro to Ken Saro-Wiwa and even to the present agitators seem to mean nothing to them.

“I think it is very careless of the leadership of the National Assembly to undermine the Niger Delta, they should understand that this will not continue forever. A day will come when we will liberate ourselves from this oppressive society someday.

“You must understand how these lawmakers got to where they are in the first instance. With due respect, most of them were either handpicked by one person or they are just there without the support of the people.

“Let us not deceive ourselves the electoral process of this country is flawed. That is the basic thing. Let us look back recently, in the 8th National Assembly, we had situations where some lawmakers stood against the policies of the government, they are no longer in the National Assembly. Where is Dino Melaye, Sen. Bukola Saraki and others?

“It is also important to note that the National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives is lopsided. That is then country we are in. That could also be the reason they try to play on the intelligence of Nigerians.’’

IPDI gives Sylva 4-day ultimatum

In a similar development, IPDI, in a statement by the National President, Austin Ozobo, said: “We will pass vote of no confidence on Sylva if he fails to clear the air within four days and will also demand that he be relieved of his national assignment for betraying Niger Delta region.

“Recall, a viral online report on Friday alleged that Dickson accused Sylva of misleading the Senate with a proposal of 2.5 percent equity shares for host communities in the PIB bill when he appeared before the Senate.

“Despite the fact that both leaders have their peculiar differences, Sylva should defend the allegation of misleading the senate with contrary recommendation despite the five per cent earlier suggested by the Senators.

“Silence sometimes means consent, PIB is crucial to the Niger Delta region, Sylva should tell the region his role on the shabby three percent equity shares in the bill.

“We want him to speak, whether Dickson is lying or not. The issue of PIB bill is beyond two of them being on a war path for some time, we are interested to know what he (Sylva) told the Senate when he appeared before them. It is not a matter joke.”

“Niger Delta is already provoked over the three per cent host communities’ equity shares in the PIB, he should speak to save the planned attacks on oil facilities,” Ozobo added.

We’re waiting for Buhari’s reaction – KAGOTE

Also reacting to the issue, President of KAGOTE, Emmanuel Deeyah, said: “We call on President Buhari to correct the anomaly before it causes more crisis hare, we live in a country that is supposed to be practicing democracy, but there is no justice because what is going on now is ‘power or might of the majority.’

“There is something this government or the National Assembly seems to have forgotten. It was the peace moves spearheaded by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, which ensured there is steady flow of oil. Now, why did that happen? It happened because they pacified the people, it did not mean that things have changed.

“It does not mean that our people are happy, but we believe in one Nigeria. We have made the necessary sacrifices, but it appears that those who are there are arrogant about it. What is there to give us 10 per cent and even the constitution of that Host Community Fund is not even in the hands of the communities.

“If there are negative reactions from the people of South-South, I am sure the whole of the country will sit-up. I think that is where they are heading to. We are still watch, because they have not finished.

READ ALSO: PIB: Senator cautions Niger Delta lawmakers against instigating statements

“Maybe, when they harmonize it and it gets to the president, let us see what the reaction of the President will be. That we just fold our hands and keep quiet is not good, because we are the ones suffering the exploitation of the natural resource.

“The East-West Road is part of the neglect. The architect of this is one of us, Sen. Godswill Akpabio. The president in his wisdom set up what they call the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, PIDF, and approached the Sovereign Wealth Fund to get some money to fund key projects; the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way, the Abuja-Kano Express Way and the East-West road and the reason the government took that step was so that fund should not be the problem in the execution of this projects.

“What did Akpabio do, he moved that the road should be returned to the Ministry of Niger Delta. Where will the Ministry find the money for the project?

“Now we are saying the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is not well funded and the Ministry. Now check the other projects I mentioned and their level of progress, you will see that they have gone very far, but nothing has happened on our East-West road. When we have this kind of situation, one brought by external influence and the one caused by own people, I do not know where we are headed.

Lack of coordination

“The PIB is dead on arrival as far as we are concerned.  In representation, I have been in the parliament, the older you are, the more effective you become and the more resilient and the more you can achieve. I would want to think that there is absence of coordination among our people with all amount of sincerity.

“Before this time, we use to have this South-South Governors meeting and then the South-South People’s Assembly, where you had our leaders. When we were in the National Assembly, these people provided us with support and information.

“It is not everybody that has found himself in the National Assembly that knows much about some of these things. When the governors and leaders of South-South are not together, the ones in the Peopls Democratic Party, PDP, are one side and the ones in APC are on the other side.

“So, there is no platform for coordination and synergy among our people. It is only when such thing is in place that we can make headway. We were there and the governors use to meet, our governor then, Dr Peter Odili will call us and tell what they discussed and we then we can together to see where we can make further legislative action.

“Even what we call South-South Parliamentary Caucus, where we have the House representative’s members come together and discussed pressing issues, they have not had such meeting for some time.

“The legislators need these supports to function effectively. There is need for coordination meeting among the leaders and the lawmakers. Let us push back our individual interest and focus more on what we want as a people.”

Act before it’s too late —Militants

On their part, Niger Delta Liberators in a statement by the leader, self-styled “General” Peter Nanakumo, said: “We appreciate the fact that the National Assembly is a different arm of government, but we know that the three per cent to host communities and 30 per cent for frontier basin development were influenced by the North and All Progressives Congress, APC, as a political party.

“What the National Assembly has done is injustice and against the interest of the people of Niger-Delta. We have been pushed to the wall and will not accept the maltreatment, but we ask   President Buhari, who has the opportunity of reversing the injustice and stop the brewing holocaust in the region to do so before it is too late,” the group added.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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