…frowned at continued neglect of region
…tasks NDDC, Niger Delta ministry to ensure better accountability
…expressed solidarity with Benue people
…says, Amnesty program necessary for peace in region
The Leaders, elders, traditional rulers and political leadership of the Niger Delta region, rose from a meeting on Thursday and came out with some conclusions after their far-reaching deliberations that touched on issues bordering on the affairs of the region and the country in general.
The conference which held on the platform of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), at the country home of Ijaw National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, in Kiagbodo, Burutu council area of Delta state, came out with certain conclusions.
Besides the rejection of the Federal Government’s cattle colonies plan, the conference also frowned at the continued neglect of the oil-rich region by the current administration, particularly the refusal of the government to address the 16-point demand presented to it since November 2016.
The conference, which was chaired by the convener of PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, expressed solidarity with the people and government of Benue State over the bloody New Year day massacre, reportedly carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen, in which more than 70 lives were lost.
It, however, advised the federal government to handle the issue which it refers to as ”the festering Fulani herdsmen’s issue”.
The conference also noted that the Fulani herdsmen issue is a delicate one, admonishing further that the issue of livestock farming should be situated in the commercial realm where it belongs.
“We are in solidarity with the people of Benue State and other parts of the country where communities have suffered untold menace and brutality in the hands of Fulani herdsmen.
”We also rejected the idea of setting up Cattle Colonies around the country and we advise the federal government to handle this sensitive matter with tact and treat the issue of animal husbandry as commercial transactions, which should be left in the hands of relevant stakeholders.
”However, no Niger Delta land will be available for such cattle colonies”, the conference said.
On the situation of things in the region, besides the displeasure expressed on the refusal of government to attend to issues concerning the region, it also called for the sustenance of the Amnesty Programme, which it said had the capacity to keep the region peaceful.
“It also noted with concern the slow pace with which the Federal Government continues to handle matters pertaining to the Niger Delta, especially the implementation of the 16-point agenda submitted to it (federal government) since the November 1st, 2016.
“The conference also condemned, in particular, the continued refusal of international and national oil companies to show their presence in the Niger Delta, including moving their operational and administrative offices to the region. It also noted also with, grave concern, the continued delay in the completion of the East-West road and the under funding of its implementation.
The regional critical stakeholders also expressed concern over the fact that plans are being concluded to issue licenses to modular refineries without corresponding participation from stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.
However, it calls on various Niger Delta people and communities, especially, the youths and various aggrieved groups to continue to exercise patience and allow PANDEF and its other political leaders to continue dialogue with the Federal Government.
“We call on Niger Delta Political leaders and leadership of intervention agencies such as NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to show greater accountability in managing resources allocated for various programs.
“We re-affirm our confidence that the Presidential Amnesty Programme is a veritable tool for maintaining peace in the region and that we shall send a high powered delegation to the Federal Government to discuss issues pertaining to the Amnesty programme and its continuation”, the conference concluded.