The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), the mouthpiece of the people of South-South region has bemoaned the poor condition of critical infrastructure in the Niger region, particularly roads, calling on the Federal Government and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), to give immediate and urgent attention to transportation in the region.
The group, in a communiqué by the National Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), after a national leadership retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, highlighted the East–West Road, from Benin to Calabar, Calabar–Itu–Ikot Ekpene–Aba Road, Ogoja–Ikom–Calabar Road, and Port Harcourt to Aba section of Enugu-Port Harcourt Road.
PANDEF encouraged governors of the region and all political office holders, elected and appointed, “to give greater attention to issues like job creation, rural women and youth development, healthcare and education, to check the growing rate of youth delinquency.”
National officers, elders, state chairs, secretaries, state women and youth leaders of PANDEF attended the retreat with the theme, “Re-engineering for the Future Together.”
The regional body restated its position on restructuring and appealed to the Federal Government “to as a matter of urgency begin a constructive dialogue process on the restructuring of the country.”
It welcomed the order of President Muhammadu Buhari for “a forensic audit of the NDDC accounts from 2001 to 2019,” but demanded “names of beneficiaries of contracts of the commission over the period under review should be made public.
“In addition, we insist that for NDDC to function effectively there must be adequate funding and less political interference,” it added.
“PANDEF further urges Mr. President to extend the order of forensic audit to other national interventionist organizations like the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF).
“PANDEF also used the opportunity of the retreat to interact with critical stakeholders and key NGOs working in the region, including the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang,” the communiqué stated.
The group also restated its commitment to engage with all critical stakeholders of the region in its work, irrespective of political inclination, for the betterment of the region.
It commended the Federal Government for the peaceful resolution of the contentious issue concerning the license/operation of OML 25 located in Belema, Offoinama and Ngeje communities in Kula Kingdom of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, Rivers State.
However, it implored government “to deploy same approach to other host communities in the Niger Delta where there are disputes over Oil Marginal License/operation.”
PANDEF applauded the people of Kula Kingdom “for their steadfastness and resilience, and for remaining peaceful throughout the period of the dispute.”
It similarly commended the Nigerian military for its professional conduct in handling the matter, as well as “Belemaoil for proving beyond reasonable doubt that oil and gas producing companies can do better in developing the human and infrastructural development in the oil and gas bearing host communities.”
The South-South group pleaded with international and indigenous oil companies (IOCs) operating the region to respect and honour Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) entered with host communities in the interest of peace in the region or possibly adopt the Belemaoil model of developing host communities.
It resolved to continue to work with other regional bodies in the country in the efforts “to enthrone an egalitarian nation that would be run on the fundamental principles of equity, fairness and justice.”
PANDEF extolled two non-governmental organizations operating in the Niger Delta region, Academic Associates Peace Works/Niger Delta Dialogue and Stakeholder Democracy Network for facilitating the retreat and further committed the group to steadfast pursuit of shared interests along with promoting understanding and peaceful co-existence amongst the various ethnic nationalities of the region.
The National Leader of PANDEF and former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark sent goodwill message to participants, which enriched the deliberations.
Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity
Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.
It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.
Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.
Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments
President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.
The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.
According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.
He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.
Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.
The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.
He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.
On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.
He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.
“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.
On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.
On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.
According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.
The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”
Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.
The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.
Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.
He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.
He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.
“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.
“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.
“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”
He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.
This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.
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