The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has appealed to militants under the aegis of Supreme Egbesu Liberation Fighters (SELF), not to toe the line of violence in the fight against alleged marginalization of the Niger Delta region.
PANDEF’s publicity secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson, in a telephone conversation with The Nation on Wednesday, said the group endorses the demands of the Niger Delta youths in the now viral video, adding that they have eventually run out of patience.
According to him, the issues raised by the militants are “true” and PANDEF has been clamouring that attention be given to them (issues).
“We had said the youths will run out of patience and that things cannot continue the way they have been going on. How can we explain that the region that produces the revenue for the country, the nation’s mainstay, oil resources, is one of the highest in the unemployment rate in the country? And you know of the population in the Niger Delta, about 50 percent of the people are under 30.
“As it were, we are sitting on a time bomb. These young men are unemployed, there are no jobs. Oil companies have refused to relocate their oil companies to the Niger Delta, that the Vice President, then as Acting President, directed in 2017. Rather what we saw recently, is the Federal Government relocating the corporate headquarters of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), from Lagos to Abuja; it flies in the place of common sense.
“In the midst of Niger Delta people demanding that oil companies relocate their operational headquarters to the Niger Delta, the Federal Government should have shown an example by relocating the headquarters of the DPR to any of the states in the Niger Delta. Instead it was relocated to Abuja on very very untenable excuses.
“The region is degraded economically. What we have today is a story of struggle for survival because there are no jobs, livelihoods have decimated, our communities, our waterways, our environment have been degraded. And then, you see resources from the land making billionaires everyday, out of an industry that operates in our backyard,” Robinson said.
Recalling PANDEF’s 16-point agenda that was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016, he noted that if the issues raised have been addressed, “the story today would have been different. What we see is a complete lack of interest, total insensitivity, total neglect of the Niger Delta region.”
Positing that the group is “right to say things are wrong” the PANDEF publicity secretary noted that while the military “have become forces of intimidation and oppression in the Niger Delta, intimidating our young people, carelessly and unnecessarily destroying our communities on flimsy excuses, no community in the North East or North West, that the bandits and terrorists are marauding and ravaging, have been destroyed by the military.
“Sheikh Gumi told the nation that the military are aware of the location of these bandits in the forests, but no forest has been decimated. But communities in the Niger Delta are being decimated. So these inconsistencies will not go on forever. The youths are running out of patience.
“PANDEF as a responsible organization would denounce any act of violence because the ramification is that the adverse effect will be more on our people. We will continue to assuage our youths. They have every right to be angry in the face of these inconsistencies.
“We completely endorse the demands of the young people. But we will continue to ask and appeal to our young people that employing violence is not the best answer at this time and we should not go back to what it was. So that we don’t give reasons and excuses to our adversaries to further degrade and devastate our communities that have been impoverished. And further throw our people into suffering and hardship.
“Because the consequences will be on the ordinary woman or man in the village. Our grandmothers, grandfathers, children, our wives, our sisters, daughters are the people that will suffer because they are insensitive and that is the truth.
“We completely endorse the demands of our young people, but we appeal that going to destroy infrastructures in Lagos and Abuja, is not the answer. There are Nigerians who genuinely support the Niger Delta cause, who are not Niger Deltans.”
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