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No crack in PANDEF, we stand by Atiku – Nat’l Chair, Youth Leader

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By Emma Amaize, South-South Editor

ASABA—NATIONAL Chairman of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of traditional rulers, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of Niger Delta, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd), yesterday, said there was no split in the body over the adoption of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.



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Deputy National Youth Leader, PANDEF, Olorogun Vincent Oyibode, who corroborated Nkanga’s stance, said: “We are persuaded by Atiku Abubakar’s position on restructuring and we are standing by him.”

Nkanga, a former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, who spoke on phone to Vanguard, said: “I want you to know that in every home, you do have some bad eggs and all that. But the stand of PANDEF was not taken today. We have been on this for quite a while.

“Remember that we had a rally in the South-West on restructuring. We were very well represented and we declared our stand. Then we had another rally in Awka, South-East, and we were very well represented. We also had a rally at Yenagoa, South-South, and we spoke very clearly, including our governor.

“We have had several meetings and had taken on Mr. President on this matter of restructuring. That has been our cardinal position.

“The presidential candidates came regardless of parities. We screened 15 or so of them and at the highest level of PANDEF we made pronouncement— that Atiku Abubakar has made the best presentation.

“So if all the six regions— as you saw in the South-West, South-South, South-East, Middle Belt and Northern Elders Forum— said officially that this is what we have done, there is nothing wrong with that. It is our position.

“If they are talking about partisanship, there is no partisanship; it is because they belong to All Progressives Congress, APC. There is one young boy among them, who is contesting for a House of Assembly seat or something like, and is making that kind of noise. We just ignored him.”

Nkanga says it’s beyond PANDEF

Continuing, he said: “The position declared by PANDEF is the stand of Niger Delta. We want restructuring and it is beyond PANDEF and PANDEF is not just the executive. Chief Edwin Clark is just the Chairman, Board of Trustees. I am the National Chairman; we do not own PANDEF.

“We had meetings that we attended. Some of them Clark could not attend; those quoting the constitution are quoting it upside down. Our constitution did not say we could not take a stand on matters that affect our people.

“In fact, the first part of the constitution is that we have to stand by the welfare of our people and you know that restructuring is a major issue. So anybody that wants to restructure the country, we will go with that person.

“And anybody that does not want to restructure, we will reject that person, whether it is in the market place, in the church or mosque. Even in other climes, we have seen church leaders spearheading issues of social justice for their people, talking about Martin Luther King, Bishop Desmond Tutu and others.

“You do not say for instance that we are traditional institution and you keep quiet, while your people are dying. Therefore, the stand of PANDEF is that we completely endorse Atiku Abubakar.”

‘We’ve past Sara-Igbe’

“The different regional bodies that had endorsed Atiku are more of a larger platform and the Publicity Secretary of that body is not Anabs Sara-Igbe, so he cannot speak for them. We have passed the stage he thought we were.”

On whether Sara-Igbe contacted him before going public with his statement, Nkanga said: “He called me on the phone and I told him exactly what I have told you: that he does not have the authority to oppose the collective stand of the region. It is himself and one Famous that are talking out of sync.”

Deputy National Youth Leader, Oyibode, told Vanguard: “There is no crack in PANDEF. The National Youth Leader of PANDEF is a House of Representatives candidate on the platform of APC, while the Publicity Secretary is the Coordinator of Buhari Movement sponsored by the Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP.

“These persons are not putting into consideration the general interest of the people of Niger Delta; they are carried away with personal interests. We are aware of the APC-led Federal Government is sponsoring these elements to further set back the Niger Delta region.

“The APC government is aware that it has not done anything to deserve our vote in the forthcoming elections. None of the promises made by this government during the tour of Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, in his acting capacity as President, has been implemented.

“Rather, the administration is unlawfully sacking illustrious sons of the Niger Delta from office. With this evil act perpetrated by the APC administration, can a true son of the Niger Delta abuse the elders and leaders of the region by referring to them as dying elders?

“The position of PANDEF in endorsing Atiku and PDP is the general position of the Niger Delta; some of these few individuals claiming to disassociate themselves from this move by PANDEF were paid to do so by APC.

“Some of them have not been attending meetings. They have been busy with their private political movements.”

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