We need not burst pipelines to shutdown oil production, PANDEF declares
Following the disruption of its general assembly meeting by security operatives in Port Harcourt last week, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has warned that it does not need to burst oil pipelines to shutdown crude oil production in the region.
It would be recalled that PANDEF helped to rein in the Niger Delta Avengers, thus stemming attacks on oil installations.
The forum cautioned also that if care is not taken, the action of the security operatives might precipitate developments that might be detrimental to the nation’s economy and stability of the polity.
A chieftain of the group, Anabs Sara-Igbe, formerly senior special adviser to former governor Peter Odili of Rivers State, told journalists in Port Harcourt where PANDEF’s meeting was aborted last Thursday, that some persons are pushing Niger Delta people to react aggressively, which would not help the government and the economy.
Sara-Igbe explained that PANDEF had applied to both the Rivers State Police Command and the Department of State Services (DSS) for security coverage for the aborted meeting, noting that the police had deployed six patrol vans, as early as 5:30am that fateful Thursday.
He added that barely 24 hours to the meeting, the state director of DSS, invited PANDEF chieftains and informed them that the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, was not comfortable with the meeting holding in the state.
Shocked by the DSS claims, Sara-Igbe said PANDEF leaders disclosed to the DSS that they had been in contact with the governor since August when he was notified of the planned general assembly, which he was advertised in national dailies as the chief host.
“When the director DSS asked us, we explained to him that this PANDEF is not a political organisation, neither is it a government organisation. It is all about Niger Delta people. It is all about how we can move Niger Delta from where we are to our dream. So if the governor is not ready for us, we can organise and host ourselves. It is not compulsory that the governor must host us,” he said.
However, the state Commissioner of Information and Communications, Emma Okah, has described as untrue the allegation by the DSS that Governor Wike instructed them to disrupt the meeting.
Sara-Igbe stated that shortly after leaving the DSS office back to Hotel Presidential the venue for the general assembly meeting, PANDEF received a call from the hotel management that the DSS had instructed them not to avail PANDEF their facility for the meeting. According to him, by this time, about 200 delegates across the Niger Delta were already lodged in the hotel.
He emphasised that it was rather preposterous for government to have deployed scores of policemen and DSS personnel in over 13 patrol vehicles to cordone off the venue of the meeting.
While regretting that people of Rivers State and Niger Delta were not given the opportunity to have first hand information concerning recent meetings between PANDEF and the Presidency on the issue of the Niger Delta.,Sara-Igbe said: “Based on the meetings we have been having with the Presidency, we have what we call strategic work plan for the Niger Delta, which we wanted to tell the people.
“The government has set up some projects, we are negotiating those projects and we are not comfortable with it. We are insisting that more projects should be added. They were saying 20-point agenda; we are saying 16-point agenda. And when we x-rayed the 20 point agenda, it covered only three points of our 16-point agenda.”
He stated that PANDEF’s primary concern has been how to bring peace in the Niger Delta; attract investors and tackle unemployment, by enriching and empowering the people.
“Rather than support the group to achieve these objectives,” he added. “Some persons are trying to infuriate the region to resort to violence. Regrettably, government has failed to provided adequate security in the region, particularly in the coastal areas where citizens are harassed daily by sea pirates.
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