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PANDEF threatens to sue Buhari to ICJ, UN, over negligence of N’Delta

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By Ebi Perekeme

Barring any last minute interven­tion, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), a non-political organ­isation of the Niger Delta people, has warned that it would not hesitate to drag the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the United Nations (UN) over what it described as “an affront to national character.”

PANDEF said that the Buhari government has made history as the only administration that does not respect the principle of true federalism in terms of equality and fairness in appointments and distribu­tion of national wealth.

The Forum said that having exhausted all known democratic avenues to ex­tract a commitment from the federal government to consider the wellbeing of the Niger Delta region which produces about 96% of crude that is the nation’s economic mainstay, “we will have no option than to take this government to the International Court of Justice and the United Na­tions where we are sure of justice.”

Speaking in an exclusive telephone interview in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Saturday, the National Pub­licity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, said that since 2016, the Forum has been making entreaties to the Buhari government to consider the Niger Delta an important region in terms of its huge economic con­tribution, but to no avail.

Robinson recalled that on November 1, 2016, PAN­DEF visited the President with a 16-point agenda out of which only two; the Ogo­ni cleanup project and the establishment of the Mar­itime University at Oke­renkoko, Delta State, were granted by the government.

He regretted the injus­tice in the appointments into the top management positions of the Nigerian National Petroleum Cor­poration (NNPC), in which only one slot out of nine was allotted to the Niger Delta region.

“Top management posi­tions of the NNPC and its subsidiaries, departments and ventures are held by people from the north, a re­gion that does not produce an ounce of oil.

“We are going to the ICJ because we do not have con­fidence in Nigeria’s juris­prudence. We will seek jus­tice from the International Court. We may be tempted to approach the United Nations. We want them to tell us if this is the way to treat a region that produces 96 percent of crude that a nation feeds on.

“We must end this in­justice. When we exhaust every available democrat­ic means of resolving our problems and there is no remedy, the Niger Delta people may take the law into their hands. Not by violence, but by following every international proto­col,” he lamented.

The PANDEF spokes­man said that if the Buhari government does not take an urgent step to correct this malady in the NNPC, “things will not be the same again in the Niger Delta and Nigeria generally,” add­ing that “the region cannot continue to feed the nation while it dies in penury and in the midst of plenty.”

According to him, Nige­ria is a federation by name and not by practice.

“This is why we have been calling for restruc­turing and true federalism. Until there is restructuring and true federalism, the Ni­ger Delta will continue to grapple in the thick dark­ness of poverty and delib­erate neglect.

“The vexatious composi­tion of the NNPC board in 2016 and the lopsided man­agement re-organization of the Corporation in 2017, left the Niger Delta region out without any consideration. This is enough to make any­body angry and seek justice anywhere he can get it,” he said.

It will be recalled that only last week, the lead­ership of PANDEF wrote another open letter to Pres­ident Buhari listing the lop­sided appointments in the NNPC and its subsidiaries to the chagrin of the Niger Delta people.

PANDEF, in the letter signed by Robinson, reject­ed the deliberate and cal­culated sidelining of Niger Delta indigenes in appoint­ments and redeployments in the NNPC and its subsid­iaries.

The group said the re­gion’s marginalisation at the national oil corpora­tion became even more pronounced in the March 2020 promotions and reor­ganisation, which further isolated the Niger Delta from its mainstream man­agement structure.

PANDEF stated, “To­day, under Mr. President’s watch, the paradoxical and dismal reality is that in the management of the Nigerian National Petro­leum Corporation (NNPC), through which the federal government regulates and participates in the coun­try’s petroleum industry that operates in our back­yards, virtually all top management positions of the corporation and its subsidiaries, departments, and ventures are held by persons from the northern zones of the country that do not produce an ounce of oil, to the exclusion of indigenes of oil-producing communities of Niger Del­ta region.”

PANDEF listed 20 man­agement positions held by northerners in NNPC to in­clude Group Managing Di­rector (GMD), Mele Kyari; Chief Finance Officer, Fi­nance and Accounts, Umar Ajiya; Chief Operating Of­ficer, Gas and Power, Yusuf Usman; Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services, Farouk Garba Sa’id; Chief Operating Officer, Refining and Petrochemicals, Mus­tapha Yakubu; Corporate Secretary/Legal Adviser to the Corporation, Had­iza Coomassie; GGM, In­ternational Energy Rela­tions, IER, Omar Ibrahim; GGM, Renewable Energy, Kallamu Abdullahi; GGM, Governance Risk and Com­pliance, Ibrahim Birma; and GGM, NAPIMS, Bala Wunti.

Others are MD, NNPC Shipping, Inuwa Waya; MD, Pipelines and Prod­uct Marketing, PPMC, Musa Lawan; MD, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, Mans­ur Sambo; MD, Duke Oil/ NNPC Trading Company, Lawal Sade; MD, Port Har­court Refining Company, Malami Shehu; MD, Warri Refining and Petrochemi­cal Company, Muhammed Abah; MD, Nigeria Gas Marketing Company, Ab­dulkadir Ahmed; MD, Nigeria Gas and Power Investment Company Limited, Salihu Jamari; MD, NNPC Medical Ser­vices, Mohammed Zango; and Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Sarki Auwalu.

PANDEF stated that the entire southern Nigeria was allotted only three top management positions in the NNPC.

However, a high ranking government official who does not want his name in print told Sunday Indepen­dent that the federal gov­ernment would not like to join issues with PANDEF on the issue.

“When you talk of lopsid­edness, you have to take a holistic view of the whole appointments from the Permanent Secretary to the Directors. You might not get the whole appoint­ments until you get a com­prehensive list of all the appointments. But like I said, we don’t want to join.