In what appears a co-ordinated response to President Buhari’s unclear intention in the Niger Delta, the Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) on new year’s day joined Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to query alleged clandestine moves to frustrate dialogue as a tool for resolution of the festering regional conflict.
MEND, earlier on Sunday, had vowed not to have any dealings with Buhari’s administration any longer, while calling on the President to stop his “cunning, crafty and un-statesman rhetoric about the Niger Delta region”, saying his utterances are only but jeopardising the fragile peace in the region.
PANDEF, on its part, queried government’s real agenda in budgeting a whopping
N29 billion in the 2017 budget to fight militancy in the Niger Delta region, whereas it had been mouthing use of dialogue as a more sustainable option for the enthronement of peace.
The group further alleged that two months after it met with President Buhari and tabled a 16-point demand to facilitate peace, his administration was still foot-dragging on the best way forward.
Condemning Buhari’s alleged hidden agenda, member of the Central Working Committee, Dr. Alfred Mulade, said in a statement on Sunday, “To make matters worse, the government is reported to have earmarked a whooping N29Billion of oil revenue to fight Militancy in the Niger Delta region. This, of course, will further exacerbate the crises in the region, where PANDEF has been working assiduously to ensure permanent peace.”
He added, “How on earth would government begin to think this kind of huge expenditure following the dwindling economic conditions just to fight militancy, when the causative factors, sufficiently articulated and presented to Mr. President, by PANDEF, remain ignored?
“In the meeting with Mr. President, and at other responsible fora, PANDEF has consistently advocated for the need for dialogue, and the urgent setting up of a Dialogue Team by the Federal Government to demonstrate credible commitment in resolving the crisis in the region, for dialogue with PANDEF which bear clear mandate from all stakeholders and agitating groups in the region.”
The seeming co-ordinated stance by the major fronts in the Niger Delta sure leaves President Buhari with much to chew in the new year. Desirous of stabilizing continuous flow of oil to revitalize its prostrate economy, the Nigerian government had tried to activate various strategic contacts to stem sabotage to oil facilities.
However, a myriad of interest groups and demands had remained a major source of distraction, often prompting the presidency to claim that it was yet to have credible leaders from the Niger Delta region to dialogue with.
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