By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Youth of Niger Delta region have said they were satisfied with the 16-points demand presented by the Pan-Niger Delta Forum in its meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari as a means of developing the region.
In a communique issued at the end of its emergency conference in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State last weekend and made available to THISDAY in Port Harcourt, the youths, under the aegis of Niger Delta Youth Association (NDYA), commended the elders for collapsing all other interest groups into the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PNDEF) in order to have a common front to engage the federal government for the advancement, development and survival of our region.
The communique, which was signed by the President, Comrade Victor James; Vice President, Comrade Ibisio Harry; Spokesman, Comrade Gabriel Unyeowaji, and seven others also endorsed some of the 16-Point Demand of the elders, ranging from the Maritime University at Okrenkoko in Delta State, to the restructuring of the Amnesty Programme, the opening up of Warri, Calabar and Port Harcourt Ports as international Ports and the cleaning up of the entire Niger Delta wherever pollution was found.
The youths however said some demands like the federal government’s granting of oil and gas blocks should rather be expanded to cover communities of the entire Niger Delta as simply giving a few individuals from the Niger Delta oil and gas blocks would not create the wealth need to move the region forward.
“The reason is because our region is suffering from institutional and systemic poverty therefore clusters of communities within all ethnic nationalities should be granted oil and gas blocks as doing so will create wealth which the people are starved and which prevents the people from enhancing their potentials,” they said.
They also said, “PANDEF should have made the ‘Niger Delta Coastal Road Project’ one of its basic demands and as clear as possible without ambiguity because it is strategically positioned along the region’s vast coastline and an economically viable project which will attract serious foreign investments to the Niger Delta in terms of real estate and tourism.”
The group however expressed sadness over statements quoting Buhari as saving “I have no quick solutions to your (PNDEF) demands”, adding that the statement indicated a reluctance and sincerity by the Presidency to establish the needed dialogue process for the stability and development of the Niger Delta.
They said, “What the Niger Delta needs is sincerity from this present administration,” adding that there was need for true federalism in the country to give all the federating units the confidence that there interests were being protected in the union.