- Kachikwu: Attacks, a setback to ongoing dialogue
Sylvester Idowu in Warri and Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) led by Chief Edwin Clark, friday described the continued attacks on oil and gas facilities in the region as an act by criminals and enemies of the region and vowed to meet soon to take a decision on how to tackle the menace.
The position of PANDEF came on the same day that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu expressed concern and disappointment about the recent pipeline attacks by militants in the region.
Clark who read a press statement on behalf of the body, appealed to the federal government not to be deterred by the ugly development.
He urged the federal government to go on with its decision to consider the requests presented to it recently.
The Ijaw national leader, who spoke to journalists alongside some other stakeholders of the region, noted that a number of factors were responsible for the pattern manifested in the destruction of critical oil and gas assets in the region, pointing out political and pecuniary reasons.
He said that the continued militant activities in the region, especially the destruction of facilities, had gone beyond matters of expression of grievances, but now a calculated attempt to derail the building peace process for the region.
Clark who noted the likely adverse effect of the ongoing destructive activities of militants on both the innocent members of the communities in the region and the environment, warned that PANDEF would not condone the activities of the adamant insurgent groups any longer.
“Our boys are still boasting in the social media that they are going to attack. I was in my house when they sent to me that federal government had sent troops to the creeks in a houseboat opposite Oporoza and that some boys had been arrested.
“We intervened and those boys were released. So the question is, what do we want, particularly these boys. What are they looking for? They are enemies of the people, they are criminals.
“Something is being done so that we all can benefit. They are not even waiting for the dialogue to take place; they are not aggrieved persons. They have ulterior motives.
“So, we will soon have a meeting of PANDEF to discuss this thing and take a position. Let me also warn that there are some politicians who are also members of the Niger Delta that are fighting themselves and it is not unlikely that some of these people are involved in these bombings to discredit each other.
“The recent blowing up of Trans-Forcados Pipeline operated by Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) is no longer a matter arising from grievances, but an act designed to sabotage the present peace process.
“I want to emphasise that no government sits by, and watch its national assets destroyed. It is the innocent members of the communities that would bear the brunt of possible reprisal attacks by the military.
“We appeal to FG to go on acting on the requests we made to Mr. President on the 1st of November. We will deal with this situation. We won’t sit down at home with arms folded and allow some few individuals to destroy our destiny.
“A larger meeting will be called to review the situation and take a position”, he said.
Clark said at the appropriate time, the people messing up the region would be known to the region noting that the body was also not ruling out that some contractors were behind the recent bombings.
At the appropriate time, he maintained that the truth would soon come out.
Clark urged the federal government not to be deterred by the attacks on national assets, assuring that the hoodlums never had the support of the people of the region.
He went down memory lane in the struggle to get attention of the federal government to address the problem of agitations since the time of Adaka Boro till today.
Clark noted that he had been involved in series of negotiations and that it was not now that he would sell out the region.
The elder statesman debunked insinuations that the grievances of the youths of the region were linked to the fact that restructuring was not part of the 16 point delivered to the federal government.
“Let me tell you people that we presented the issue of restructuring to the President. Is fiscal federalism different from restructuring? He asked.
Kachikwu Deplores Renewed Pipeline Attacks…
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources yesterday expressed concern and disappointment about the recent pipeline attacks by militants in the Niger Delta region.
Kachikwu, in a statement from the Director of Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Mr. Idang Alibi said in Abuja that the development was a setback to ongoing dialogue between the Federal Government and stakeholders in the region.
He however added that it would not deter him and other ministers of the government from the region, from pursuing the path of dialogue which he noted remains the best path to a peaceful and prosperous Niger Delta.
The statement explained that three attacks had taken place over the last two weeks even whilst efforts were ongoing to prepare the grounds for dialogue.
While stressing Kachikwu’s stance on a peaceful approach to the Niger Delta challenges, the statement said: “He urges all militants to stop and give the ensuing dialogue a chance to birth peace in the region.
“The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources once again appeals to all leaders and stakeholders in and outside the region to join hands with the government to find a lasting solution to this problem.
“As distraught as he and most ministers from the Niger Delta region are with these unfortunate incidents, they shall not give up, but will continue to work under the mandate of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari to see how to deepen the engagement and get a complete stakeholder buy-in to the solution programme of the President.