By Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta elders forum (PANDEF) yesterday said it remained the authentic voice of the Niger Delta region describing an alleged group of militants claiming to upstage the body as irritants out for selfish purpose.
The body maintained that there was never a time any group of militants that goes by the names of those claiming to have withdrawn their participation gave PANDEF any mandate to speak or act describing them as faceless.
According to a statement signed by Coordinating Â Secretary of PANDEF, Dr. Alfred Mulade,the group said the attempt to cause division in the body and rubbish its successes so far was the creation of mischievous â€œpersons of consequence and grassroots relevance,â€ attempting to mislead the public.
Â â€œThere have been some items in the media where a certain coalition of militant groups under the aegis of Â all sort of names, being Coordinated by a so-called Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA), Â purporting to have displaced the Chief Edwin Clark-led PANDEF, and adopted another certain Pan Niger Delta Peoplesâ€™ Congress (PNDPC), to negotiate with government on behalf of the region.
â€œIn as much as, PANDEF do not intend to join issues with the so-called PNDPC and its promoters, in the likes of HRM Pere Charles Ayemi-Botu, JP, Paramount Ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, and Chief Mike Loyibo, assumed National Leader and Coordinator, respectively, it is however imperative and expedient that the records are correctly placed in the public domain.Â
Â â€œThere was never at any time Â any group of militants that goes by any of those Â names gave PANDEF any mandate, as these groups Â do not exist anywhere. This Â is a clear handiwork or creation of Â mischievous persons of no consequence and grassroots relevance attempting to mislead the public, Â to appropriate Â gains Â PANDEF has recorded for the Niger Delta, Â to curry cheap popularity,â€ it said.Â
PANDEF noted that one â€œMike Loyibo, Â self-styled coordinator of PNDPC, Â has been an ambitious and desperate fellow, and only seeking illusionary political attention and relevance.
â€œHe was never a founding member of PANDEF; and Â did not know any thing about the making of Â the 16-Point Agenda. The 16-Point Agenda was not drafted in Chief Clarkâ€™s house, as Mike Loyino would erroneously have people believe. Mike Loyibo was too desperate to know that single meeting was ever held in Chief Clarkâ€™s house in the course of the making of the 16 -Point Agenda. His assertions and claims about PANDEF and the 16 -Point Agenda are Â completely false,â€ it alleged.
PANDEF explained that what is now known as the 16 -Point Agenda is a Â document containing 16-Point items of Dialogue Issues, Â articulated by a 17 -member Central Working Committee (CWC) of PANDEF, set up in October 2016 with many prominent indigenes and youths across the region as participants.
Clarkâ€™s PANDEF noted that inputs and memoranda were received from all the ethnic nationalities across the region, including existing Reports of Special Commissions and Committee instituted by successive governments for the development of the Niger Delta Region adding that Obong Victor Attah provided the venue for all the meetings of the CWC, while the process lasted.Â
â€œWhat is appalling is the attitude of Mike Loyibo in listing prominent and committed members of PANDEF as supporters of his PNDPC, unknown to them. This is a clear attempt to cause disaffection and to deliberately mislead the publicâ€, it added.
â€œSince this tantrum began few days ago, we Â have been inundated with calls and visits by the patriotic sons and daughters of the region committed to the vision of PANDEF reaffirming the assurances of Â their continued loyalty, commitment and support to the ideals and nurturing of Â PANDEF to the truly regional voice, dared towards the attainment of sustainable peace and development of the Niger Delta region. Â
PANDEF however castigated one of its members, a traditional ruler, who accepted the membership of the group being promoted â€œinto that ignoble exercise.
â€œAs for Charles Ayemi-Botu, it is unfortunate that the reverred monarch would allow himself to be dragged into such an ignoble exercise, under the coordination of Mike Â Loyibo, a joker.
â€œThis is a re-enactment of a similar trip His Majesty embarked upon immediately after our very successful meeting of August 19, 2016, where he hoodwinked and collected Â a handful of persons of Ijaw extraction and proceeded to meet with Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources to purportedly â€˜briefâ€™ the minister, an action that was frowned at, and roundly condemned by PANDEF and all critical stakeholders in the region, especially when viewed against the backdrop of PANDEF as a regional platform.
â€œIt is very probable that Ayemi-Botuâ€™s journey on this path vendetta might not be unconnected with the grouse that he was not among the PANDEF Delegates that had a meeting with His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja, on August 3, 2017, where PANDEF had useful discussions on the need for the urgent implementation of the 16 -Point Agenda, beginning with the various pronouncements made by the acting president, during his tour of the region.
â€œDespite all explanations to him that no traditional Ruler was on the Delegation, except King Alfred Diete-Spiff, who doubles as co-Chairman of PANDEFâ€™s CWC, he vented his anger, not calling to account that he was part of the earlier delegation that met with Mr. President in November, 2016, where that 16 -Point Agenda was presented by PANDEF.Â
The regional body decried the manufacturing of non-existent and faceless Â militant groups Â under all shades of names, and Â parading themselves Â as leaders and proxies, to cause confusion and alerted security agencies to monitor those attempting to disrupt the peace enjoyed in the region.
â€œPANDEF remains a not-for-profit, non-political and non-religious regional organisation, with its members cut across all political, cultural and religious divides, the undisputed voice of the region, and certainly not a platform for seeking political, social or pecuniary tendencies, as some persons would want to erroneously think. Â Â
â€œPANDEF hereby urges the government and all stakeholders Â to be wary of the intents and activities of these confusionists and troublemakers, whose intents and activities Â are inimical to Â peace, stability and development of Â the Niger Delta region, as we call on the security agencies to investigate them accordingly,â€ it added.