PANDEF leaders hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for the step.
The leaders hinted, yesterday, that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo spoke about Federal Government’s favourable disposition to the 16-point demand being adopted as working document to end the Niger Delta crisis when he led a high-powered delegation to the region last week, beginning with Delta State.
Osinbajo is expected to visit two other Niger Delta states – Rivers and Akwa Ibom – as part of the peace shuttle to the region.
The 16-point demand, prepared by PANDEF, under the leadership of an Ijaw leader and a former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, was presented to Buhari when the group met the President at the Presidential Villa on November 1, 2016.
PANDEF, in a statement, yesterday, by a member of its Central Working Committee (CWC), said: “PANDEF notes with satisfaction the pronouncement made by His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on the adoption of its position paper, containing well-articulated 16 item dialogue issues, as a working document for the attainment of sustainable peace, equity, justice and development in the Niger Delta region, during his fact-finding visit to Delta State on Monday January 16, 2017.”
The Clark-led group said it was confident that the Vice President’s visit had afforded him the “opportunity to interact for peace and fruitful engagement with the long-neglected and marginalised people of the Niger Delta,” saying the 16-item dialogue document embodies the core, broad and vexed issues that cut across every segment of the nationalities in the coastal states of the region.
“PANDEF is impressed that beyond rhetoric, the Federal Government has given definite approval for the opening of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, as well as the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) comprising the Gas City Project at Ogidigben and the Deep Seaport in Gbaramatu, Warri South-West local government area, Delta State. These projects, when fully operational, will definitely cause a turn-around of the socio-economic and security landscape of not just in Delta State, but the entire country,” PANDEF stated.
The group, however, said that while it was quick to place on record that beyond the pronouncement, which has elicited joy in the region”, the Federal Government must move the necessary steps further to fast-track the implementation of the Niger Delta projects.
“PANDEF sympathised with Mr. President on the accidental bombing of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp in Rann, Borno State, by the Nigerian Airforce, which led to the death of several IDPs. “PANDEF condoles with the families of those who lost their lives and the injured victims in this unfortunate incident. It is our prayer that God will give the families of the dead the fortitude to bear the irreparable losses, while wishing the wounded, a quick recovery,” the group added.
“PANDEF, however wishes to maintain that dialogue remains the most sustainable process for the resolution of the lingering Niger Delta question. This is in tandem with Mr. President’s edifying remark in his New Year Message on January 1, 2017 where he said “….We must continue to support and tolerate one another and live together as one. We will continue to pursue peace initiatives in the Niger Delta as I again, call on our brothers in that region who have taken to violent disruptions of economic infrastructure to come to the negotiating table…”
“PANDEF congratulates Mr. President for this speech of statesmanship. We, therefore, add that one sure way of achieving Mr. President’s dream of coming to the negotiation table is for the Federal Government to set up its negotiating team to commence the process of dialogue with PANDEF.
“We hereby appeal to our youths and all aggrieved stakeholders to continue to maintain peace, and eschew any act of vandalism and destruction of vital national assets, and the ecosystem. Let us give the Federal Government a chance to carry out its plans for the development of the Niger resident Muhammadu Buhari to the sustainable development of the Niger Delta, said in a statement: “There can be no stronger expression of Federal Government’s understanding of the situation in Niger Delta than the pronouncement by the Vice President that the region should be treated as a special development zone. “The Federal Government’s commitment to the take-off the Nigeria Maritime University Okerenkoko and the Gas City Project at Ogidigben gives a ray of hope that the oil-rich but hitherto alienated coastal belt of Delta State will be integrated into the mainstream of national development”.
The 16-PT demand:
1. The Presidential Amnesty Programme
2. Law and Justice Issues
3. The Effect of Increased Military Presence in the Niger Delta
4. Plight of Internally Displaced Persons
5. The Ogoni Clean-up and Environmental Remediation
6. TheMaritime University Issue
7. Key Regional Critical Infrastructure
8. Security Surveillance and Protection of Oil and Gas Infrastructure
9. Relocation of Administrative and Operational Headquarters of IOCs
10. Power Supply
11. Economic Development and Empowerment
12. Inclusive Participation in Oil Industry and Ownership of Oil Blocs
13. Restructuring and Funding of the NDDC
14. Strengthening the Niger Delta Ministry
15. The Bakassi Question
16. Fiscal Federalism