Niger Delta elders threaten to withdraw from peace talks with FG
Niger Delta Elders under the umbrella body of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has threatened to pull out of the peace talks with the Federal Government if it fails to comply with its demand by November 1, 2017.
The forum, the apex umbrella body of elders, leaders, traditional rulers and youths of the Niger Delta said that the Federal Government had refused to implement its 16-point demand almost one year after it was submitted to it.
The leaders also condemned the rejection of devolution of powers by the National Assembly (NASS) during the voting on proposed constitutional amendment last week.
At a press conference presided over by Elder statesman and former federal commissioner, Edwin Clark, the forum suggested a return to the 1960 independence constitution, noting “that anything else will be obnoxious and totally unacceptable to the peoples of the Southern and Middle Belt areas of Nigeria.”
The forum regretted that despite assurances by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, over the implementation of the agenda when he visited the region on a fact finding tour, nothing has been done.
Clark said that the forum leaders had received series of phone calls and text messages from youths in the region that they have lost confidence in the ability of PANDEF to negotiate for peace and development in the region.
Clark said: “Human endurance has a limit, beyond which one cannot predict what the outcome will be. If, at the expiration of the November 1, 2017 ultimatum, the Federal Government fails and/or refuses to accede to these lawful and legitimate demands of the Niger Delta people, PANDEF may consider pulling out of the on-going peace process in the Niger Delta.”
Some of the issues in the 16-point agenda, include relocation of oil companies to the region; the take off of the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko; among others.
“As a consequence of the Federal Government’s casual and sluggish approach to the immediate resolution of the current Niger Delta crisis, the patience of the youths and other critical stakeholders in the region was running out.”