By Onyebuchi EzigboÂ in Abuja
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEV) yesterday said that for the country to achieve lasting peace in the Niger Delta region, amnesty programme must be pursued seriously with vigour.
The group also expressed support for any effort that would lead to the restructuring of the country.
The Group made the declarations when its new elected national executive members paid a courtesy visit to prominent Ijaw leader and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, in his Abuja residence.
Chairman of the group and former military governor of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga(Rtd.) explained that PANDEFâ€™s visit was specifically to thank the elder statesman for his contributions in the emancipation of the people of Niger-Delta and also for the new executive to seek his fatherly blessings and advise on how the new leadership of PANDEF could approach its mandate.
The PANDEF Chairman stated that what the new leadership of the organisation would do was to build on the template that Pa Clark and other foundation leaders of PANDEF had already set. He maintained that the infrastructural and economic development of the region, youth empowerment and peace building in the Niger-Delta, would be the cardinal focus of the new leadership of PANDEF. Nkanga added that the group, would, at all times, seek to collaborate with the leaders, the youth of the zone as well as the government in the actualisation of its mandate.Â
While responding to the address of the PANDEF chairman, Clark decried the inability of the federal government to implement the 16-point agenda presented to it by the Niger-Delta leaders, including the relocation of the operational headquarters of the oil companies to Niger-Delta.
Clark also gave his backing on the restructuring of Nigeria, where equality of citizenship, equal development of all areas and where power would shift to the states or regions.Â
He noted that the federal government received over 52 per cent of the national revenue, which according to him, should not be the case.
Clark observed that PANDEF was established in 2016 to help resolve the crises in the Niger-Delta region and vandalism of oil pipelines. He noted that there was peace in the region today due to effort of PANDEF.
He recounted that the group met with President Buhari on November 1, 2016 and presented a 16 point agenda to him, adding that despite that, nothing had been done to develop the region.
He said, â€œWe wanted dialogue with the President so that he will know what is going on in the region, the oil pollution, the eco system that has been destroyed and environmental degradation. PANDEF was formed to draw the attention of the federal government to the fact that the region is very much undevelopedâ€.
He further stated that â€œExcept for the take-off of the Maritime University and the upgrading of the Maritime Academy, Oron, which had passed second reading at the National Assembly, other items in the 16-point agenda presented to President Buhari had not been attended toâ€.