COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 3RD GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE PAN-NIGER DELTA FORUM (PANDEF) HELD IN YENAGOA, BAYELSA STATE ON TUESDAY, 11TH JULY, 2017.
The 3rd General Assembly of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) was held at the DSP Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Tuesday, 11th July 2017. The meeting had in attendance, the Governor of Bayelsa State, H.E Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, Deputy Governor, H.E Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (Rtd), Speaker Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Konbowei Friday Benson; HRM King Alfred Diete-Spiff, pioneer Military Governor of old Rivers State, Amayanabo of Twon-Brass and co-Chairman Central Working Committee (CWC), PANDEF; HE Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (Rtd), Former Military Governor of Akwa Ibom State; HE Gen. John E. Yeri( Rtd), former Military Governor of defunct Bendel State; HE Gen. Cletus Emein ( Rtd), former Military Governor of Niger State; HE Col. Peter A.M. Ogar (Rtd); former Military Administrator of Kwara State; Sen. Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, Former Chairman, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); Sen. Nimi Barigha-Amange, former Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Effurun, Delta State; Rt. Hon. Chibudom Nwuche, former Deputy Speaker, Federal House of Representatives; Prof. T.T. Isoun, former Minister of Science and Technology;Hon. Nduese Essien, former Minister of Housing, Lands and Urban Development; Ambassador Godknows Igali, former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power; Col Paul Ogbebor (Rtd); Chief Francis Doukpola, Chairman, Bayelsa State Elders Council; HRM King Joshua W.S Igbugburu, JP,CON, The Ibenanawei of Bomo Clan; High Chief Francis Williams, former General Secretary, Ijaw National Congress ( INC); Chief Wellington Okrika, former Chairman Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission ( DESOPADEC), Barr Boma Obuoforibo, President Ijaw National Congress (INC); Prof. G.G. Darah; Mrs Nella Andem-Rabana, SAN, former Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, Cross River State; Mrs Marie Ebikake, former Commissioner for Transport, Bayelsa State; Alfred Mulade of PANDEF Secretariat as well as top Government officials and delegates from all the States of the Niger Delta region under the leadership of Chief Dr. E. K Clark, OFR, CON, National Leader/Convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF).
The General Assembly deliberated extensively on the current crisis of uncertainty and political drift in Nigeria and their implications for peace and corporate existence of the country. The Assembly discussed threats to national unity and cohesion represented by the issuance of provocative and incendiary statements by sectional interests such as the so-called Quit Notice given by Arewa (Northern) youth groups to Igbo people resident in the Northern States of the country.
The Assembly reviewed issues affecting the Niger Delta region, particularly the 16-Point Demands presented by PANDEF to His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari on 1st November, 2016. The Assembly appraised the efforts made by PANDEF in the past one year to broker peace between the various agitator groups in the Niger Delta, and the government of Nigeria as well as peace meetings PANDEF has held with the leaders of regional bodies across the country.
The Assembly noted with regret the failure of the government of Nigeria to take positive action to tackle the urgent matters of the Niger Delta as contained in the 16-Point Demands. As a consequence of the government’s sluggish approach, the patience of the youth and other stakeholders is running out. The Assembly further noted that maintenance of peace since August, 2016, has resulted in substantial increase in oil production to levels above two million barrels daily; leading to more robust revenue earnings for the country without tangible reciprocal action on the part of Federal Government towards the goodwill and patriotism shown by the people of the Niger Delta.
In the light of the foregoing, the General Assembly of PANDEF resolved as follows:
RESTRUCTURING AND FEDERALISM
- The Assembly calls on all Nigerians to give support to the Acting President, His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to enable him effectively perform the duties of his office at this critical time in our national life.
- The Assembly affirmed its position that the urgent need for restoration of true Federalism and political restructuring in Nigeria is at the front burner of the nation today.
- To facilitate the restructuring exercise, the government is urged to start the implementation of the Report of the 2014 National Conference, particularly aspects relating to the devolution of powers, fiscal federalism and ownership of natural resources, creation of new states, State police security institutions, and judiciary.
- The government should ensure that action on all the imperative changes of restructuring and other urgent national issues is completed not later than the end of December, 2017.
- The Federal Government must take immediate steps to secure life and property throughout the country by dealing decisively with the menace and aggression of Fulani herdsmen and armed terrorists who have occupied and set up camps in most parts of southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt States.
- The Government should engage in dialogue with all agitators in all sections and zones of the country for an amicable settlement and resolution of all the issues in contention.
PANDEF 16-POINT DEMANDS
On the 16-Point Demands submitted by PANDEF to the Government in November, 2016, the Assembly urged the Government to expedite action on the following areas on which the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo made definitive statements during his fact-finding tour of the Niger Delta a few months ago:
- Take-off of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State in the 2017/2018 academic session.
- Relocation of the head offices of all oil companies to the Niger Delta; the initiative must be taken by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries. The Assembly demands that this relocation of the head offices must be done on or before October 1st, 2017.
- A comprehensive programme for the surveillance of oil pipelines and facilities to be handled by youths, in their respective areas across the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta region.
- The establishment of modular refineries in the Niger Delta in partnership with local investors and host communities to replace illegal refineries being operated by some of the youths in the Niger Delta region.
- Implement programme of the Clean-up of Ogoni lands which has been abandoned for months after the symbolic flag-off
- Resolution of the decade-old refugee crisis of the Bakassi Peninsula by setting up a Federal Commission for resettlement and equitable implementation of the Green Tree Agreement signed by Nigeria and Cameroon.
SOUTHERN SOLIDARITY AND PROGRESS
The Assembly noted with delight the reviving of the South-South Governors’ Forum as a veritable platform for providing leadership to the people of the Niger Delta at this critical period of Nigeria’s history. The Assembly welcomed the election of the indefatigable Governor of Bayelsa State, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, as the Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum. The Assembly urged Governor Dickson to use his deep experience and extensive networks to consolidate the unity and solidarity of the Forum, particularly in reinvigorating the BRACED Commission to promote co-prosperity and emancipation of the neglected and exploited oil-rich region.
PANDEF commends the Governors of the South-South and South-East States for their meeting at Enugu on Sunday, 9th July 2017, at which they agreed to pursue regional cooperation and integration for the economic benefit of the two zones as a people that share common heritage, culture and affinities.
Congratulates leaders of Southern Nigeria for their successful meetings held in Lagos on 18th June and 9th July, 2017, and urged them to continue in that spirit for the restoration of true Federalism and justice in Nigeria, and truly endorses the positions taken and communiqués issued at the end of those important meetings.
Calls on the Government of the Niger Delta states to work to ensure that the interest of host communities is given optimal attention, regarding the utilization of 13% derivation funds.
PANDEF urges the various ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta region to show greater commitment to harmonious co-existence amongst themselves and eschew acts capable of causing disaffection and internal conflicts.
Restates its condemnation of the quit notice given by the Arewa Youths to the Igbos as it is tragic and a potent threat to the corporate existence of the Country, especially when viewed against the backdrop of the active collaboration of some eminent personalities who are fanning the embers of discord and conflict in the region.
The Assembly reiterates its profound gratitude to the former Minister of Science & Technology, Prof T.T Isoun, for the donation of office premises to PANDEF, for use as Secretariat in Yenagoa. Further, Assembly conveys its gratitude to the government and people of Bayelsa State for hosting the meeting and for the commitment made by the government to notably support PANDEF activities.
Yenagoa, the 11th day of July, 2017.
Chief EK Clark OFR,CON, National Leader/ Convener,