Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF), has vowed not to engage the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in any negotiation concerning development of the oil-bearing region of the Niger Delta, but to channel its energy into embarrassing his government.
The forum maintained that it would no longer “waste” its time begging for the development of the region again but rather expose the wrongs done by the Buhari government, which according to it, has worsened the already bad situation of the entire southern Nigeria in the five years of his governance.
Accordingly, PANDEF clarified that the institution of the N50billion law suit before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, has nothing to do with the grievous devastation of the Niger Delta environment due to oil exploration and exploitation spanning over 50 years, but “the deliberate lopsided appointments in key institutions and the Buhari government.”
Speaking in an exclusive telephone interview on Saturday, the national publicity secretary of PANDEF, Mr. Ken Robinson said having presented a 16-point agenda to President Buhari since 2016 and his attendant refusal to act on the demands, “we are compelled not to bother to beg his government to pay attention to our developmental challenges again. We have resolved to embarrass his government before the international community.
“We want the world to see how ethnocentric this government is. The resources deployed for the development of Abuja is from the Niger Delta. Everyday, you go to Abuja, you either see new projects springing up or the expansion of old ones. Why can’t the government replicate that same gesture in the Niger Delta region that produces all the money!
“PANDEF can never ask the federal government for monetary compensation for the environmental degradation of Niger Delta. We want to see Niger Delta indigenes appointed into top managerial positions of critical institutions and government offices. Only in so doing can we slowdown in what we intend to do to this government,” he said.
Ken also recalled that on the list of utilisation of the Abacha loot of $311million, “no mention was made of any project in the Niger Delta. All the roads in the Niger Delta are in deplorable state. The East/West road remains uncompleted till date, yet it is one of the most critical roads in the country. Our teeming young graduates are roaming the streets unemployed, yet we are an oil producing region.”
He urged the federal government to stop playing politics with the Niger Delta and call on the international oil companies to immediately relocate their headquarters to their operational bases in the Niger Delta so that the job-seeking youths can be profitably engaged. (Sunday Independent)