…Gives reason for region’s youth’s action
…Alleges FG’s insincerity to region’s affairs
Amidst threats by youths of the Niger Delta region to renew their violence and vandalization of federal government establishments in the zone over continued neglect of the region, Niger Delta leader, Chief Edwin Clerk has warned the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other leaders of the zone in government to be cautious of taking measures that could escalate the already tensed situation in the zone
Clerk, a leading member of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) stated this in an open letter he wrote to the Vice President, where he criticied his reported meeting with the Minister of state for Petroleum, Timipre Silva and Delta state Deputy Governor Kingsley Otuaro following the declaration by Niger Delta youths
The Octogenarian regretyted that despite several peace moves and efforts by PANDEF to calm down the Niger Delta youths against violence over continued neglect of the zone, the federal government has remained insensitive the plight of the zone
“I have read with very serious concern reports of the meeting of Mr. Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, SAN, with the Minister of State Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, at the State House, Abuja, few days ago, over heightened concerns in the Niger Delta region.
“This was in particular reference to the recent developments in Delta State; where some Communities and groups i.e. Ijaws of Gbaramatu and Ogulagha, Itsekiris, Urhobos, Ukwanis, Isokos, etc. issued ultimatums and threats to disrupt oil and gas operations in their areas, due to Federal Government’s continued apathetic attitude towards the Region.
I have been inundated with countless calls since the news of that supposed meeting from various quarters, including the media, and many have expressed serious exception to the fact that critical stakeholders of the region were not consulted or involved.
“The action, whatever the intentions were, is not only thoughtless but is also a betrayal of trust to say the least, and likely to stir up unnecessary tension in the region. This again shows the creepy attitude of this administration, and its practice of exclusion, and non-committal to issues of the Niger Delta. It is sad that this government has continued to behave in this manner, and sadly, with support of some of our people.”
He regretted that all the promises made by the federal government during the Niger Delta leaders meeting with President Muhammadu in 2016 and 2017 have been thrown to the trash bin, warning that the region has seen enough from the negligence of the federal government
“Unfortunately, in spite of the gains arising from the subsisting peace in the region, and the conciliatory gesture of the Niger Delta people, the Federal Government has continued to demonstrate indifference to issues affecting the Niger Delta Region.
“Majority of the laudable pronouncements and promises made by the Acting President during his visit to the region, and subsequent engagements with the flagship, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), have remained, largely, mere wishful assertions.
“PANDEF noted at the time that the patience of the youths and other critical stakeholders in the Region was running out.
“However, when there were threats by the boys, in November 2017, to resume hostilities in the region, PANDEF appealed to them to sheathe their swords through active and spirited engagements.
“An issue that easily comes to mind is this Administration’s abandonment of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ)/Gas Revolution Industrial Park Project at Ogidigben in Itsekiri and Gbaramatu in Ijaw, in favour of building of AKK Gas Pipeline in Ajaokuta to Abuja, Kaduna and Kano for about 2.8 Billion Dollars. Sadly the name of the project, AKK Gas Pipeline, even ignores the name of Escravos from where the gas and the pipeline starts.
“This is very unfortunate; I consider it part of the deliberate attempts to undermine the efforts of the people of the region and the leadership of PANDEF. It is capable of causing disaffection and unnecessary tension in the region.
“Niger Delta Leaders are particularly disappointed at the steps being taken by the Vice President of Nigeria and the impact it may have on impending crisis in the Niger Delta six coastal States.
“It would be recalled that in early 2016, various militant groups in the name of Niger Delta Avengers were vandalising and destroying oil pipelines, which resulted in drastic reduction of crude oil production from 2,000,000 Barrels per day to about 700,000 Barrels per day. At the time, even though the Nigeria Army, in the name of “Operation Crocodile Smile”, invaded the area, vandalisation continued.
“So the Leaders led by me, convened an emergency meeting which was attended by over 500 persons from the Niger Delta region, from all walks of life, at the P.T.I. in Effurun, Delta State. It was after that meeting that I led a delegation of over 100 Leaders of the Niger Delta to the Presidential Villa to see Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari on 1st November, 2016. The 100 strong powerful delegation included First Class Traditional Rulers, Eminent Statesmen, Technocrats, and Professionals of all spheres, Right Activists, Politicians, Community Leaders, Youth and Women Leaders. At the meeting, we presented a 16-Point Agenda, summarizing our broad issues.
“That 16-Point Agenda was presented by the then co-Chairmen of PANDEF, HRM King Alfred Diette-Spiff, Amayanabo of Twon Brass and former Governor of old Rivers State, and His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State. The document was personally received by President Buhari and he promised to study it and revert back to us.
“During the period, when Professor Osibanjo was the Acting President, he decided to take a tour or visit to the Niger Delta, starting on the 16th of January 2017, and met the various Communities including the Youths and the Women Leaders.
“At various venues, and in all the Town Hall meetings, during the visit, the Acting President recognised PANDEF’s role. His first port of call was Delta State, to a place known as Gbaramatu, where he said he was disappointed at the level of underdevelopment. He had thought that these oil producing areas were like Dubai, but met the people living in abject squalor, not even potable water to drink. He later returned to Warri to meet Leaders under my Chairmanship, and later, made series of purposeful visits, holding Town Hall Meetings in the various States.
“After this extensive tour, for which we are grateful, and the promises made at every stop, PANDEF was invited to a meeting with him on August 3rd, 2017, (exactly three years today, 3rd August, 2020). At the meeting with Prof. Osibanjo, it was further agreed that the Federal Government will hold dialogue with us, PANDEF, on the 16-Point Agenda earlier submitted to Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is as result of the nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government and blatant disregard for the people of the Niger Delta region, who live in abject poverty and seriously deprived of participating in their God given resources, oil and gas in their area, and with the NNPC completely taken over by a section of Nigerians outside the Niger Delta, that has started to heighten tension in the area again.”
“I should add that sinc the return of Mr. President to his office, from his medical vacation in London, the progress which seemed to have been made by the Acting President was totally ignored. This is very sad indeed.” He stated
He riminded the VP in his letter that the leaders of the Niger Delta under the auspices of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) had warned that they would continue to support the youths in the oil producing Communities, as they continue to agitate for their rights, adding that the very reason why the youths in the various parts of the region have given various ultimatums to the Federal Government, to address the iniquities, which are now reducing us to second class citizens.
“It is therefore a betrayal of trust, after the recent ultimatums given by the various oil producing communities in Delta State, for the same Vice President to hold a meeting with the Minister of State Petroleum and the Deputy Governor of Delta State.
“Instead of the Vice President reverting to the leadership of PANDEF, he now holds meeting with the Minister of State Petroleum Timipre Sylva and the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Kingsley Otuaro to the exclusion of the leaders with whom he has been working.
“We, the entire leaders, often feel like hiding ourselves in shame, and a sense of condemnation, for allowing our God given resources to be looted by a few of our corrupt sons, in conspiracy with some unscrupulous politicians from other parts of Nigeria.
“It may be necessary to emphasize our ungodly deplorable plight where we have being treated as second class citizens or colonial territories being exploited by politicians and the Federal Government, which makes us one of the most undeveloped regions of Nigeria, despite our God given resources.
“Now with all the oil which we produce, we are still being reduced to suffer grave injustices and exclusion. Most of the communities where the oil comes from are not connected to the national grid, thus no electricity, and the roads are deplorable; the East-West Road has been under construction for the past 10 years and has remained uncompleted.
“We have suffered and endured enough, hence today, the Leaders of the Niger Delta have become a laughing stock. This situation, we will not accept from the Federal Government, the State Government and the politicians.
“Mr. Vice President, therefore, take heed over these secret meetings, in which you want to isolate our leaders. We would have thought that your greater concern should be after how to put into action your various promises, most of which are not being implemented.
“Let me make it clear that we are prepared to take our destiny in our own hands, no matter the consequence that will follow suit. Enough is Enough.” Clerk warned