Presidency taking N’Delta people for granted, says PANDEF

Chukwudi Akasike and Daniels Igoni

29 June 2021

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THE Pan Niger Delta Forum on Monday reacted to the response of the Presidency to the threat by a militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, describing it as a sign of insincerity.

PANDEF told The PUNCH that the Presidency’s reaction was an indication that it (Presidency) was taking the Niger Delta people for granted, having failed to implement the region’s 16-point agenda.

Recall that the Avengers had on Saturday threatened to resume attack on oil installation with a view to crumbling the nation’s economy.

But the Presidency said the threat from the militant group was curious and unnecessary because it (threat) was coming barely 48 hours after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari met with Niger Delta Leaders and the Ijaw National Congress at the Presidential Villa, where germane issues received response.

However, the PANDEF’s spokesman, Ken Robinson, said the response from the Presidency was an indication that the Federal Government was unserious with issues concerning the region.

Robinson said, “Clearly, the response of the Presidency shows that this Presidency is not serious; it is not sincere and it is taking the people of the Niger Delta for granted. So, we cannot advise the Federal Government on this because they (FG) have no excuse and they know what to do, but they are afraid to do it.

“Remember PANDEF led a delegation to visit Mr President on the November 1, 2016, and we presented what became the 16-point agenda for the holistic development of the Niger Delta to Mr. President.

“As we speak today, you are aware that only one and half of those 16 items have been given attention; the Maritime University in Delta State and the Ogoni clean-up. Apart from that, the Federal Government has done nothing.

“The pronouncements of the Vice-President in 2017, including the directive that oil firms should relocate their headquarters to Niger Delta, have not been implemented,” he said.

INC keeps mum

Meanwhile, the Ijaw National Congress has kept silent on the Presidency’s statement.

President of the INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, was evasive when one of our correspondents called him on the phone to react to the position of the presidency.

Okaba had claimed to be in “a noisy place” and could not speak on the issue when called on the phone, but accepted request that the question be sent to him via text message.

He, however, did not reply to the text message despite the fact that a reminder was also sent to him afterwards.

When contacted again after some hours, the INC president acknowledged he had seen the text message, promising to work on it and revert.

But he had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.

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