Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Pan Niger Delta group, Pan Niger Delta Forum, (PANDEF) has called for greater cooperation and synergy particularly among politicians from the Niger Delta, and the South-south geopolitical zone, warning that lack of cooperation would worsen the developmental efforts of the region.
The National Chairman of the regional body, and former military Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd) made the call in a press statement issued yesterday.
He said it became necessary to make the passionate appeal to South-south politicians due to recent happenings in the nation’s polity, and the continued poor attention to issues of the region by the federal government.
According to him, PANDEF had lately been inundated with worrying complaints of arbitrary termination of valid contracts of companies, in which Niger Deltans had a principal interest, in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the federal government, and mainly, in ministries where the ministers were also from the Niger Delta.
He opined that if these complaints were true, then it was very unfortunate, adding that they should not be working against themselves, for whatever reasons.
Nkanga further lamented that it was saddening that persons from the region were being used to perpetuate the insidious acts against the region.
He advised the affected persons, who had come to them to exercise patience and not seek redress in the law courts yet; while they made efforts to ascertain the facts of the matters, and seek peaceful resolutions.
According to him, ‘’Because the truth is that they do have the right to go to court if their contracts/projects were unlawfully terminated, especially in a manner that indicates vindictiveness and possible abuse of office by those concerned. PANDEF is quite disturbed by these circumstances; they are unhealthy and inimical to the socio-economic development of the region. As such we have decided to seek individual audiences with key political stakeholders including ministers, members of the National Assembly, and Heads of federal MDAs from the region, to discuss these concerns, and hopefully resolve them.
‘’The reality is that thousands of youths from the region and other parts of the country must have become jobless as a result of the contracts that have been reportedly terminated unjustly. Thereby adding to the already awful unemployment situation, and likely to increase cases of youth restiveness in the region. So, who are the actual losers in these situations? The region and the country of course; and not necessarily the businessmen and women whose contracts/projects were terminated for whatever reason. And that’s the significant point to note!’’
The national chairman further said the regional body had persistently called on the governors of the region to work in synergy to boost security and economic activities in the region, hence there was now, more than ever, even greater need for cooperation and synergy among the governors, members of the National Assembly and Ministers from the Niger Delta, and with, particularly, the elites and business class of the region.
He said, ‘’We need to learn to work together, irrespective of political propensities and distinctions, to change the narrative of the region for the benefit of present and future generations. We cannot afford to continue “as usual”. If we do, the consequences would be severe. The painful consummation is that while a few persons may continue to bolster their financial nests and political standings, the vast majority of the people of the Niger Delta Region would continue to wallow in deplorable economic states. One tree can never make a forest.’’
‘’Whereas others are maximally, appropriating available opportunities to better their regions and their people. What we have continued to witness are situations whereby politicians from the region work at crossroads, and undercut one another. This is unsavoury and no longer acceptable. We would like to implore that intrigues and subjective interests should not be allowed to undermine the collective interest of the region and its people. The rest of the country is ahead of us on many fronts. Regrettably, it is resources from our region that sustain the nation but the developmental reality of the region remains contradictory. The lack of understanding amongst our political class, even amongst persons in the same political parties, is a contributory factor.’’
‘’While PANDEF would continue to accentuate the gross neglect of the region by the federal government, and champion the cause for the needed attention and actions to reverse the situation, we cannot continue to overlook the internal political anomalies. That is why this appeal has become pertinent. It is important to remind sons and daughters of the Niger Delta region that the offices they occupy are held in trust for the people, because democracy is about the people.
‘’And therefore, we are further encouraging our political class to kindly recalibrate their approach to politics, and endeavour to use the good opportunities the Almighty God has graciously granted them for the good of the Niger Delta Region. Rather than being engaged in needless contestations with their fellow brothers and sisters. Nothing less is plausible! As we seek to advance personal goals in politics and even in business, let us all, young and old, great and mighty, small and big, from sunrise to sunset, east to west, from Akwa Ibom to Bayelsa, to Cross River, to Delta, to Edo, and to Rivers State, bear in mind that we are all one. Let us, therefore, be fair to one another, and work in synergy, to create value, and fast track the socio-economic development of our region. We hope that all concerned would give conscientious contemplations to the matters herein highlighted, and act accordingly, in the overall interest of the Niger Delta region and Nigeria, our country.’’