THE Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has said that it is engaging the Federal Government on the development of the region and called on the youths in the oil-rich region to be patient with the forum.
One of the leaders of the forum, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas on Monday at a press briefing on Monday on PANDEF’s conference slated for Thursday in Port Harcourt said that the Niger Delta was changing from its violent agitation to constructive engagement with the Federal Government and other stakeholders in order to achieve the goal of returning the region to its former position of an investors’ haven.
He added that the forum can resolve the region’s challenges with such constructive engagement.
The one time Minister of Aviation and Labour explained that the forum had recorded a lot within the past one year, including halting attacks on oil installations.
“Many times, because the blood of the youths is hot, they run into problem. Through the maturity and instrumentality of PANDEF, the cases of attacks on oil installations to reduce production has been brought to a halt”, he stated.
Graham-Douglas added; “We want to be peaceful, but the government of the day must listen to our cries. We are backward in terms of development. We are changing the narrative from violent agitation to constructive engagement with government and other stakeholders for sustainable development.
The aim is also to return the Niger Delta region to its former position of being an investors’ haven,” Graham-Douglas, who is also the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the forthcoming PANDEF Conference”.
He maintained that the youths should not be in haste, adding that with the pattern PANDEF was following, it would not be long before the challenges of the region would be resolved.
On the seeming docile nature of the forum, he said; “We have been proactive. Apart from the Vice President going round the region, a number of committees have been set up, including the one to review the 16-point agenda.
“We (PANDEF) were involved in ensuring that the Maritime University, which was earlier cancelled, was reinstated. We said 16-point agenda and magnanimously, they (Federal Government) said 24-point agenda.”
Graham-Douglas, a state leader of PANDEF in Rivers State, pointed out that the forum would meet with relevant agencies to know why they had not been able to contribute their quota to the development of the region.
Others, who spoke on PANDEF’s activities and the forthcoming conference of the forum, are a front line Niger Delta leader and member of the forum, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe; and the National Secretary of Urhobo Youth Leaders’ Association, Chief Vincent Oyibode.