Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has threatened to pull out of negotiations with the Federal Government if the 16-point agenda it submitted last year are not addressed by November 1, 2017.
Leaders of the group, led by Edwin Clark, stated this position at a press briefing in Abuja on Monday. This is coming after the Presidency announced a possible meeting between the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and the group this week .
According to Clark, despite promises made by the Acting President during his tour of the region, the government has failed to commence implementation of the demands.
“I wish to urge the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, implement the pronouncements made by the Acting President, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, during his fact-finding visits to the Niger Delta Region, and to set up, without delay, the Federal Government Dialogue Team to engage PANDEF, towards resolving the pending issues contained in the Forum’s 16-Point Demands on behalf of the people of the Niger Delta Region, by, or before, November 1, 2017 (one year anniversary of our meeting with His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari).
“Human endurance has a limit beyond which one cannot predict what the outcome will be.
“We submitted a 16-point Demand to Mr. President on November 1, 2016, and we had expected that by its next anniversary, the 16-Point Agenda would have been comprehensive sorted out.
“If, at the expiration of the November 1, 2017 ultimatum, the Federal Government fails and/or refuses to accede to these lawful and legitimate demands of the Niger Delta people, PANDEF may consider pulling out of the ongoing peace process in the Niger Delta” Clarke said.
The elders of the forum said the government has not demonstrated enough faith in the process even though the Niger Delta leaders have made efforts to stabilize oil production and help the country out of recession
Clark added: “Unfortunately, however, it is a matter of regret to note that, the efforts of PANDEF to help Nigeria climb out of recession through a stable oil and gas production regime, have not been met with tangible reciprocal action by the Federal Government.
“This is in spite of our being placed at a disadvantaged and marginalized position, even on issues concerning the oil and gas industry.”
According to the elder statesman, most pressing of the issues are 10% for Host Community in the just passed Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) which he said must not be tampered with, alienation of Niger Deltans from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) appointments, relocation of oil companies’ headquarters to Niger Delta, etc.
The Niger Delta elders also rejected the new board of the NNPC, appointment of Chief Executives of NNPC subsidiaries, selection of indigenous oil operators and marginal oil fields operators.
Listing all the affected NNPC board members, heads of its subsidiaries and oil block allocations, Clark stated that it was clear the Niger Delta people were not involved in the process especial as related to allocation of oil blocks and appointment of indigenes.
“It is ridiculous that the people of oil producing communities in the Niger Delta are not millionaires, not to talk of billionaires, in the oil industry.
“Yet when oil was not discovered in the Niger Delta, we were wealthy fishermen, farmers, traders and timber merchants and so on.
“And when we now cry out, we are labeled as ‘troublemakers militants’ ‘terrorists.’ But now, it is people from faraway places, where oil and gas are not produced that are rich Nigerians. Why?” Clarke queried.
He condemned the rejection of devolution of powers by the National Assembly in the ongoing Constitution amendment process, stating that particular sections of the country were antagonistic to the Niger Delta cause.
According to him, “Suddenly, the word ‘Restructuring’ has become a pain in the ears of a few champions of wicked hegemony.
“All we are saying is, let us go back to the negotiated 1960 Independence Constitution, on which the 1963 Republican Constitution was molded.
“If there be anything wrong with that Constitution, it can become an issue to ameliorate, by amicable negotiations and consensus.
“Anything else is most obnoxious, and totally unacceptable to the peoples of the entire Southern and Middle Belt areas of Nigeria, as well as the growing numbers of well-meaning Nigerians from the Northern parts of the Country.
“All we are saying is, ‘No Restructuring, no Nigeria.”
Clarke however stated that the people of Niger Delta believe in the corporate existence of Nigeria but regretted the antagonistic rhetoric from other parts of the country.
Leaders of PANDEF at the press briefing were King Alfred Diete Spiff, Senator Stella Omu, Senator Henshaw, Kayode Ajulo, amongst others.