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PANDEF backs opposition to sale of 57 oilfields

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•Senate passes maritime varsity, two others’ bills
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has backed the opposition by some ethnic groups in Delta State to the proposed plan by the Federal Government to auction 57 marginal oilfields without recourse to the host communities.

It described as aberrant and unacceptable, a “situation whereby the Niger Delta region continues to suffer marginalisation and isolation in critical sectors of the country, especially in the oil and gas sector.”

The decision to key into the demands of Gbaramatu kingdom, as the Itsekiri and Urhobo groups, was taken during the group’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, in consultation with critical stakeholders.

In a statement yesterday, PANDEF’s National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said: “The issues of marginalisation and exclusion, of neglect, discrimination, unfairness and injustice against the Niger Delta people by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration; the abandonment of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Gas Revolution Industrial Park project, the relocation of the floating dock, the ownership of oil marginal fields, and others raised variously by the groups, are issues that PANDEF has been talking about. But, sadly, the Federal Government has been heedless, detached, and carried on with unconcerned ease.

“The arising development, where oil and gas-producing communities and ethnic groups in the Niger Delta region are now issuing ultimatums and threats to the Federal Government, is therefore, not unexcepted.”

He continued: “We had warned that the people will soon run out of patience with the government. The country should not be surprised to see more oil-producing communities and ethnic groups take similar steps. The Buhari administration cannot continue to take the goodwill of the people of the Niger Delta region for granted.

“No responsible government would do what this government is doing to the Niger Delta region. How do you explain the fanfare accorded the flag-off of the $2.8 billion Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Gas Pipeline project, against the abandonment of similar and related projects in the area, from where the gas would be gotten to the celebrated AKK project?”

Also yesterday, the Senate passed a bill seeking to establish the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Delta State.

Also given the green light are those of the University of Technology, Auchi, Edo State; and the Federal College of Education, Giwa, Kaduna State.

The treble scaled through after a clause-by-clause consideration of the report of the chamber’s Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.

James Manager (PDP – Delta South) sponsored the maritime varsity bill, while Francis Alimikhena (APC – Edo North), and Uba Sani (APC – Kaduna Central), were the brains behind the Auchi and Giwa tertiary institutions.

The Senate, consequently, adjourned till next Tuesday.


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