Efforts have been intensified by the Pan-Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF) to avert the threat by the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) to attack critical oil installations over who in the Presidency oversees the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Stakeholders in PANDEF have expressed grave concern that any attack on oil installations would have adverse consequences for the already fragile ecosystem of the Niger Delta and the national economy.
PANDEF’s Secretary General, Dr. Alfred Mulade, told The Guardian that elders in the region would continue to prevail on the RNDA to reconsider their stance and explore every avenue for dialogue.
RNDA leader, Johnmark Ezonbi, aka Obama, had this week threatened that the group would plunge Nigeria into another recession if the supervision of the NDDC is transferred from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
According to him: “We will carry out collateral damage on all available oil installations and facilities across the length and breadth of the Niger Delta region.”
But PANDEF has called on all aggrieved parties to show understanding, caution and not to attack any oil installation in the Niger Delta.“We are appealing to Niger Delta agitators not to embark on the destruction of any assets because of NDDC. What we want every aggrieved person to do is to apply peaceful means of venting their anger and not to destroy government properties.
“Oil installations remain an asset of the region and that is why we keep claiming that Niger Delta is the region that provides the resources that sustain this country. So, we cannot because of NDDC destroy the resources that we have. Every aggrieved party should try to exercise patience and go about their grievances with caution and then with dialogue. They should adopt peaceful means instead of destroying our national asset. They can vent their anger through peaceful and natural means,” he said.
In order to stem unrest and discontent in the Niger Delta, Mulade urged the new NDDC Board and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godwin Akpabio, to ensure that funds appropriated to their respective government agencies would be utilised for the development of the region.
The PANDEF scribe noted that there had been a lot complaint from the people of the Niger Delta over the under-development of the region to the extent that a lot had not been achieved by the NDDC and the Ministry of Niger Delta.
“We want them to refocus in terms of infrastructure, in terms of meeting the yearnings and aspiration of Niger Delta people. They should redouble their efforts. The people want to see renewed vigour in the activities of these agencies in developing the Niger Delta region. They must ensure that every kobo that is expended must be to turn around the fortunes of the Niger Delta in terms of infrastructural development, environmental remediation of polluted sites and human capital development. The funds appropriated to these agencies must be applied purposefully for the Niger Delta,” he said.
PANDEF also implored the Federal Government to be alive to its responsibility through proper and improved funding of the NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to enable them meet the overall objectives of their establishment.