Declare support for PANDEF, suspend planned attacks on oil facilities
Idowu Sylvester in Warri
Following in the footsteps of the Coalition of Arewa Youth, agitators in the Niger Delta Thursday formally rescinded the quit notice recently handed down to Nigerians of Yoruba and Northern extraction resident in the oil-rich region.
The agitators also declared their support for the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), whose leadership they had previously disowned, to lead the Niger Delta region in the ongoing negotiations with the federal government.
They also announced the suspension of the planned attacks on oil and gas installations in the region and set aside their intention to declare the Republic of Niger Delta on October 1.
In a statement issued by the agitators Thursday, after their meeting on Wednesday night, the coalition led by ‘General’ John Duku said that the withdrawal of the quit notice, among other threats, was a sequel to the intervention of PANDEF and Nigeria Ethnic Nationality Youth Leaders Forum (NENYLF), led by its acting National Chairman, Mr. Imoh Okoko.
They however demanded the sack of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, and his replacement by a person from the Niger Delta.
The statement said: “After a series of meetings yesterday (Wednesday) between the high command of the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators led by General John Duku and the leadership of the Nigeria Ethnic Nationality Youth Leaders Forum (NENYLF) led by the Acting National Chairman, Comrade Imoh Okoko, coupled with the intervention of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, which comprises over 250 groups with their leaders and representatives present at yesterday’s meeting, officially withdraw our quit notice issued to the Northerners and Yorubas living in Niger Delta region; call off planned resumption of attacks on oil and gas installations across the Niger Delta region and beyond from September 10, 2017; suspend the October 1, 2017 declaration of the Niger Delta Republic; declare support for the Pan Niger Delta Forum; demand restructuring and the removal of the Group Managing Director of NNPC.
“We have also resolved to work with PANDEF and give it our maximum support and we urge the federal government to continue dialogue and implement the 16-point demand presented by PANDEF on behalf of the Niger Delta region.
“This comes after extensive consultations across the Niger Delta region, which we discovered that it is only PANDEF that has been working round the clock to resolve the Niger Delta issues and has people of proven integrity.
“It is a clear fact that working with any rival group such as the Pan Niger Delta Congress (PNDC) is not in the interest of the Niger Delta.
“The meeting also resolved that the oil and gas companies should relocate their headquarters to Niger Delta region. We also resolved to put on hold the issue of the return of oil blocks owned by Northerners and the Yoruba to the Niger Delta people and demand that the NNPC should revisit their recent appointments, and urge the federal government to replace the GMD of NNPC with an indigene of the Niger Delta in the interest of peace, equity, fairness and justice.
“We also thank the Nigeria Ethnic Nationality Youth Leaders Forum and the Pan Niger Delta Forum for the major roles they played during the series of meetings which resulted in our withdrawal of the quit notice and we therefore agree that from now on the Nigeria Ethnic Nationality Youth Leaders Forum should be our representatives, mediators and contact point.
“We mandate them to liaise with the oil, gas, marine and service companies operating in Niger Delta region. We also use this medium to declare total support for the current board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and we warn all groups calling for the removal of the MD, Mr. Nsima Ekere, to desist from it as such a plan is evil and detrimental to the development of the Niger Delta region.
“We therefore appeal to the federal government to release funds owed the NDDC for the development and sustenance of peace in the Niger Delta region. The NDDC has a major role to play in sustaining peace in the Niger Delta region.
“Finally, we call on all our partners, groups within and outside the Niger Delta region, as well as all the agitating groups in the Niger Delta region to support PANDEF and give them all the needed support to enable them continue to dialogue with the federal government, in order to move the Niger Delta forward.
“Meanwhile, we wish to appeal to the Pan Niger Delta Congress to work with PANDEF for the interest of the Niger Delta region, and we want to assure all the indigenes of Niger Delta and the general public that while we await the outcome of the dialogue between PANDEF and the Nigerian government, we shall not fail to respond to any issue that may threaten the collective well-being of the Niger Delta people.”
Those who signed the statement were General John Duku (Niger Delta Watchdogs and Convener, Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators); General Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteers); General Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors); Major-Gen. Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters); Major-Gen. Asukwo Henshaw (Bakassi Freedom Fighters); and Major-Gen. Ibinabo Horsfall (Niger Delta Movement for Justice).
Others included Major-Gen. Duke Emmanson (Niger Delta Fighters Network); Major-Gen. Inibeghe Adams (Niger Delta Freedom Mandate); Major-Gen. Abiye Tariah (Niger Delta Development Network); Major-Gen. Joshua Ebere (Renewed Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta); Major-Gen. Jeremiah Athony (Movement for Actualisation of Niger Delta Republic); Major Francis Okoroafor (Niger Delta Freedom Redemption Army); and Colonel Nelson Okochi Walter, among other representatives of groups across the Niger Delta.