By Princess Atevure,
Prominent Ijaw leaders across the Niger Delta, blamed the Federal Government for the crisis rocking the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, led by Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark and Pan Niger Delta People Congress, PNPDC, led by HRM Charles Ayemi-Botu over who has the legitimacy to negotiate with the Federal Government on behalf of the region.
It would be recalled that the two groups have been at loggerhead over who will negotiate on behalf of the Niger Delta people, which led to the recent threat by members of the Niger Delta Avengers to resume hostilities since the Federal Government was not ready to negotiate with the PANDEF.
The leaders accused the FG of allegedly sponsoring factional groups like PNPDC and Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA against the PANDEF in order to continue to impoverish the region.
But in their separate reactions, Comrade Jude Ebitimi Ukori, Executive Chairman, Egbema and Gbaramatu Communities Development Foundation, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, Prime Minister of Gbaramatu Kingdom and Comrade Sheriff Mulade, Chairman of Chairmen of Gbaramatu Communities frowned at the divisions among the Niger Delta leaders but blamed it on the Federal Government divide and rule policy to continue to impoverish the Niger Delta people despite the enormous resources.
Comrade Jude Ebitimi Ukori in a chat with our correspondent urged the Niger Delta Avengers to remain calm as there are better ways to ventilate their grievances rather than the destructive method they have always use which has caused collateral damages.
According to him, “the Niger Delta Avengers should sheath their sword and embrace dialogue, any attempt to destroy oil facilities will affect both the people of the Niger Delta and the Federal Government.
“The federal government on her part has failed to address and implement the 16 point agenda presented to them by PANDEF which led to the cease fire few months ago”.
He advised members of the PANDEF and PNPDC to embrace each other and shame the federal government by speaking with one voice in order for the federal government not to continue with their plot of impoverishing the Niger Deltans.
Chief Godspower Gbenekama, on his part said the Federal Government does not have the intention of developing the Niger Delta, hence they are taking the advantage of the factional groups in the region not to develop the oil rich Niger Delta.
He said, “I don’t think there is any faction in the region because all the groups are pushing for the development of the Niger Delta. The federal government knows those that helped them to secure the present peace in the region. They can at least negotiate with those leaders for the development of the region.”
He noted that instead of negotiating with those that helped them to talk to the boys for the cease fire, all the Federal Government could do was to sponsor some persons to abbot PANDEF meeting.
He posited that the only way out of the continuous marginalization of the Niger Delta is true federalism, saying that it is true federalism will allow him to nurture and control his own resources, not someone dictating for him.
“I know that there are processes to follow for true federalism to stay, and the same time there are things the Federal Government can do for us like addressing the 16 points agenda before thinking of quashing agitations for true federalism.
“We know we have been shortchanged, but let us not throw away the baby with the bath water. You know oil is the mainstay of the nation including the Niger Delta. So those that are been sponsored by the Federal Government against the Niger Delta should not use the Niger Delta as a means of their livelihood, they should think of what they can do for the Niger Delta and not what the Niger Delta will do for them”, he advised.
Comrade Sheriff Mulade, who also spoke in same vein called on both PANDEF and PNPDC to come together and work for the collective developmental agenda of the Niger Delta people.
He said, “as far as I am concerned, the federal government has renege in its promises to develop the Niger Delta, instead it is the militarization of the Niger Delta with Operation Crocodile Smile, Operation Octopus Grip and others. All which are targeted on the defenseless people of the Niger Delta to keep their mouth shut permanently.”
According to him, “no group was formed before launching military formations in the Niger Delta, why can’t the federal government do same by rolling out bulldozers and others to develop the Niger Delta”.