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Division rocks Niger Delta ethnic groups over planned dialogue

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Edwin Kiagbodo Clark

Edwin Kiagbodo Clark

Division among Niger Delta interest groups is casting a dark pall on the long-awaited dialogue between the Federal Government and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) led by Chief Edwin Clark.

Their concerns appear to be the agenda and alleged marginalisation of some ethnic nationalities in the composition of PANDEF, which is expected to lead the dialogue team in November.

Some of groups including Ndokwa National Youth Movement (NNYM), the Niger-Delta Security Watch Organisation (NDSWON), Coordinator – Ijaw Human Rights Monitors, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, (IPDI), the Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade, (FHRACC) and the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM) are worried that the selected leaders may not properly articulate their demands in a way that no ethnic nationality would feel shortchanged.

While expressing support for the parley, the groups insist that every nationality from the region must be represented.

The NNYM National Secretary, Idi Presley Ifeanyichukwu, said Ndokwas could reject the outcome of the dialogue, noting that for a while now, the Ijaws have positioned themselves as lords over other ethnic nationalities in the region.

He said: “When the very first meeting was convened on the 19th of August at P.T.I Conference Centre, Effurun, the lop-sided formation of the membership of PANDEF to favour the Ijaw ethnic nationality confirmed our fears. We see the forum as ‘internal colonialisation’ of the other ethnic nationalities and this the Ndokwa nation will never accept.”

In a similar vein, Ijaw rights group comprising the NDSWON, Coordinator, Ijaw Human Rights Monitors, IPDI and the FHRACC, in a joint statement said it would be unacceptable if the pan-Niger Delta dialogue team goes to the negotiation table without a demand for freedom from their economic and political bondage.



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