- Urges Buhari to quickly constitute a dialogue team
- Calls for the immediate commencement of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko
PANDEF made the appeal yesterday in a Press Statement signed by Dr. Alfred Mulade on behalf of the Central Working Committee of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, stressing that it would deepen its peace process with the federal government, noting that peace remains the primary factor that can usher in sustainable development to the region.
The group however, frowns at a statement credited to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, denouncing the promoters of PANDEF.
The statement however wonders on such statement when the group is allegedly gaining wider acceptability and participating among traditional rulers and other stakeholders of the Region.
The Pan Niger Delta Group have also called on President Mohammadu Buhari to quickly constitute a dialogue team to negotiate with PANDEF with a view of addressing the issues that have been tabled before the federal government.
The particularly called for the immediate commencement of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, wondering that despite the pronouncement of federal authorities of its take off have not come to limelight.
Speaking on the credibility of PANDEF, Dr. Mulade noted that the forum is made up of a conglomerate of high profiled personalities within the Niger Delta region that have allegedly paid their dues with dignity, adding that it would not betray the confidence reposed on it by the people of the region.
The statement reads in part “Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) wishes to appeal to all agitators and stakeholders in the region to exercise restraint and remain calm so as to sustain the relative peace enjoyed in the region as it will enable PANDEF deepen its engagement process with the Federal Government. Peace remains the primary factor that can usher in sustainable development.
“PANDEF is not unmindful of the unfortunate statement emanating from the Federal Authorities denouncing the promoters of PANDEF who have been given the mandate to dialogue with Government on behalf of the region. This is unfortunate, especially, given the fact that such statement is coming from the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, and in such a time when there is obvious region-wide acceptability and participation in all activities of PANDEF by notable Traditional Rulers, Opinion Leaders and stakeholders to champion the course of dialogue on behalf of the region.
“However, in the face of all these provocations, there is imperative need for us to continue to embrace peace and sustain the ceasefire deal. PANDEF will continue to engage the Federal Government to respond to the urgent need to initiate dialogue process without delay. In the light of Mr. President’s New Year message which he endorsed the primacy of dialogue as a sine qua non for the resolution of the issues in the Niger Delta. The Forum appeals to all aggrieved groups to remain calm and hopeful.” PANDEF asserted.
Stressing that “In an expanded meeting of the Central Working Committee (CWC) of PANDEF held at Kiagbodo, the country home of PANDEF Leader, Chief E.K. Clark on Thursday 5th January, 2017, the Forum took a very strong exception to the statement credited to Mr. Adesina that President Muhammadu Buhari was still in search of “credible” leaders of the Niger Delta with whom to dialogue. As the Kiagbodo meeting noted, PANDEF is a body of credible and patriotic leaders who have paid their dues in various capacities and walks of life and not a body of attention seekers as being bandied by enemies of the Niger Delta.
“At a meeting of 19th August, 2016, when the monarchs, leaders and other notable stakeholders of the Niger Delta met at the Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun, Delta State to seek a peaceful solution to insecurity in the region. The inaugural meeting resolved to prevail on the armed agitators to halt further attacks on oil installations in the region. This call was heeded by the groups, and a unilateral ceasefire was declared. Thereafter all the stakeholders gave PANDEF the mandate for dialogue with the Federal Government.
“At a subsequent meeting in Abuja, all groups and stakeholders resolved to be in PANDEF.” It noted
Adding that “Since then, PANDEF has received in audience the Honourable Minister of State (Petroleum Resources) on August 26, 2016; several meetings with delegations of the American Embassy; the British Embassy; the European Union (EU) delegation; the German Delegation and several other foreign missions with fruitful interactions.
“PANDEF is today, the umbrella body of monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta region without regard to political affiliation, ethnic bias, religious beliefs and ideological persuasions.
“Since the birth of PANDEF, the Forum has been working assiduously to ensure the sustenance of peace and enthronement of development in the region, while guiding the ceasefire deal entered into by the agitators.
“The high points of our engagement was the Invitation extended to it by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, through the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu. The historic audience with Mr. President took place at the Presidential Villa, on November 1, 2016. The array of eminent and patriotic Delegates drawn from various sections of the Ethnic Nationalities in the Niger Delta Region attested to the wide acceptability and primacy of PANDEF to dialogue with the Federal Government on behalf of the region. A List of some of the promoters of PANDEF is provided on the addendum hereto.
“PANDEF wishes to recall that at that landmark interactive session with the President, PANDEF presented a well-articulated 16-item address that highlighted some of the core issues relating to the resolution of the Niger Delta conflict. In particular, PANDEF urged President Buhari to expeditiously name the Government Negotiating Team to engage PANDEF representatives. We are worried that this has not happened. Consequently, there is growing unease and frustration among the various agitating groups and stakeholders that gave PANDEF the mandate to mediate on behalf of the Niger Delta.
“The core demands contained in PANDEF Address are already in the public domain. However, one of the festering issues is that of the take-off of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko which was announced to PANDEF audience with Mr. President on Nov, 1 2016. This news was warmly applauded and appreciated but nothing has been done to substantiate this announcement to date.
“It is pertinent to note that the Nigerian Maritime University is owned by the Government of Nigeria. It is the only one of its type in Nigeria and indeed, West Africa. There is no justification whatsoever in delaying its opening. This will be one important step towards peace and security in the region.
“PANDEF will never betray the confidence reposed on it by the Niger Delta people and will continue to work assiduously to sustain the struggle of the Niger Delta people for peace, equity and justice.” It stated.
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