Group blows hot and cold on Clark
FG should ignore RNDA threat- NDRC, 12 other groups
Bozimo troubleshooting group working behind the scene to resolve impasse
By Emma Amaize,
Regional Editor, South-South
AS at last night, it was uncertain what exactly the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, and nine other militant groups have up their sleeves. They had, last Monday, threatened to resume fresh hostilities in the Niger Delta region if the Federal Government continued to engage the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, led by the former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, instead of the Pan Niger Delta People’s Congress, PNPDC, headed by former National Chairman of Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, His Majesty, Pere Charles Ayemi-Botu.
But, their threat expected to expire next week undoubtedly generated deep worries within and outside the region. A trouble shooting group led by a former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, has been working round the clock since last Tuesday to avert resumption of attacks on oil installations in the region.
Leader of RNDA and Convener of the coalition of nine militant groups, self-proclaimed “Major General Johnmark Ezonbi, had in in a statement, declared: “RNDA at a crucial meeting attended by leaders and staunch members of the nine militants groups, which met at Benin River in Delta State, gave PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark and the self- styled Coordinating Secretary, one Alfred Mulade, one week to stop parading themselves as representatives of the Niger Delta as any further recognition by the Federal Government will be met with stiff opposition.”
The militants added: “All State Governors of the South- South zone, representatives of the Federal Government and any government official, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe-Kachikwu and Minister of Niger Delta Pastor Sani Uguru with the Special Adviser to President on Niger Delta, Brig General Paul Boroh (retd) and other federal government agencies should stop any further discussion with the disbanded PANDEF and its members, as it is no longer recognized to enter into discussions and negotiations on behalf of the region.”
They also warned: “Failure to abide by the demand, Clark and Mulade with the disbanded PANDEF members should be held responsible for any fresh attack and destruction of oil facilities in Niger Delta region.”
They advised President Muhammadu Buhari “to urgently convey a fresh negotiation with the Pan Niger Delta People’s Congress PNDPC under the leadership of HM Pere Charles Ayemi-Botu, Paramount Ruler of Seimbri Kingdom and former National Chairman of TROMPCON, which has been mandated by the militant groups to discuss with the Federal Government on behalf of the region.”
Ignore RNDA- NDRC, others
However, the Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders, NDRC and 12 other militant/advocacy groups disagreed with the attempt to undermine PANDEF, maintaining that Chief Clark’s leadership of the region was incontestable.
Spokesperson of NDRC, W O I Izon Ebi, who applauded the Coalition of Agitators for withdrawing their quit order to Yoruba and northerners living in Niger Delta region in deference to PANDEF, last week, said Chief Clark, former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Obong Victor Attah and paramount ruler of Twon Brass in Bayelsa state, King Alfred Diete-Spiff were the known leaders of the region under PANDEF.
The militant group expressed dismay at the antics of some royal fathers and supposed leaders in the Niger Delta region allegedly fraternizing with RNDA, describing them as shameless. It averred: “The NDRC, the 21st century youths of the Niger Delta and its affiliate organizations would not keep quiet watching the antics of the so- called convener of RNDA and shameless traditional rulers, who have turned our exalted traditional institution into an avenue for begging and for filthy lucre. These traditional rulers, instead of using their exalted positions to enhance peace and harmony in the Niger Delta, have used the institution to sow discord, partisanship and shame to their numerous subjects.”
“The activities of some of these Niger Delta traditional rulers are shameful, their royal beads have turned to beads of shame and their thrones are in dire need of sanctification because of their greed. It is only in the Niger Delta that you would see traditional rulers in government offices begging clerks to push their contract files to the next table.”
Citing one of the royal fathers, NDRC said: “We advise the paramount ruler that if he feels that his exalted position is not good enough for him, he can abdicate his throne and contest election to seek government appointment. The antics of the paramount ruler are sickening because he never cared about the generality of the Niger Deltans and the unborn generation.”
The group added: “We advise these long throat traditional rulers to borrow a leaf from their counterparts in other clans, for example HRM King Oboro II, the Pere of Gbaramatu, the Oba of Benin, the Ooni of Ife, the Obong of Calabar, the Ata of Igala, who have all maintained the dignity of their exalted thrones without opprobrium and sowing discord and acrimony to the people and community.”
Passing a vote of confidence in PANDEF, Urhobo Security Network, Niger Delta Liberation Command, Urhobo Development Vision and Niger Delta Integrity Forum, urged PANDEF to ignore blackmailers and detractors trying to pull it down.
Self- styled “Commander” Itolddem Daghware of Urhobo Security Network commended PANDEF for providing the region good leaders, warning the PNDPC “to take cognizance of the point that PANDEF is not an Ijaw nation affair since the Niger Delta comprises of over 50 nationalities, which are all adequately represented in PANDEF.” Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, CNDA, leader, “Commander” Abraham Ekokotu said: “PANDEF’s sincerity, patriotism and long term commitment to the Niger Delta challenges are evidenced by the evolving of a constitution developed through a democratic process, which has now been adopted by all representatives of the various nationalities in the Niger Delta.”
.National leader of Niger Delta Liberation Command, NDLC, “Gen.” Irhevwen Clarkson, alias ‘Go Slow’ warned that any attempt by the Federal Government to chicken out of the already advanced negotiations with PANDEF on the basis of some ill-advised and empty threats by some faceless group will be undermining the huge positive steps the Buhari-led administration has already taken to seek lasting solutions to the Niger Delta age-long issues, and would be tantamount to self-cancelling motion.
Also, the national coordinator of Urhobo Development Vision, UDEV, Mr. Arodovwe Ogheneochuko, saluted the courage and ingenuity of the leadership of PANDEF in capturing the most pressing challenges of the Niger Delta in its 16 -point demand, saying: “If the Federal Government and PANDEF can reach a reasonable compromise on the issues, then the chances of the Niger Delta attaining the United Nations vision 2030 Sustainable Development Goals will be highly enhanced.
Throwing his weight behind PANDEF, Comrade (Evang.) Peter Darah, Convener, Niger Delta Integrity Forum, NDIF, asserted that he was particularly impressed with PANDEF’S advocacy for the speedy completion of the EPZ project, which he said had the potential of creating about 150,000 direct jobs and 200 000 indirect jobs on completion. He frowned at the attempt to undermine the genuine efforts of PANDEF in developing the Niger Delta region.
Spokesman of the Greenland Mandate Justice, GMJ, “General” Eta, aka Osama, said the PNDPC “may simply be a brainchild of the APC-led government to use elements from within the Niger Delta region to disrupt the already advanced high level engagement of PANDEF with the federal government.”
He advised the RNDA to “withdraw the threat to strike at oil facilities in the region while talks are still ongoing between the two bodies in Abuja – otherwise, they risk the anger of the collective ex-militant groups in the region, particularly those of the Greenland Mandate Justice.”
Bow out, youths tell Clark
Dismissing support for PANDEF and Clark, the Niger Delta Youth Council, NDYC, rising from a meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, urged Chief Edwin Clark to bow out and let a more vibrant young leadership to steer the affairs of the Niger Delta region.
President of the group, Daniel Etaga, told reporters that NDYC was endorsing the Pan Niger Delta People’s Congress –PNDPC, led by HM Ayemi- Botu with Chief Mike Loyibo as the Coordinator.
X-raying the activities of the PANDEF since formation, he said it failed woefully in its advocacy, as none of the 16-point demand has been achieved and these may not be unconnected with the ageing nature of Pa Clark and excessive greed for power at all time.
His words: “To us, the proclamation of a new leadership platform by the agitating groups to lead the struggle does not come to us as a surprise, as we have made constant calls and engagements for Pa Clark to step down the regional leadership and active participation in Niger Delta activities and Nigeria at large after its failure to push and attract development to the region during former President Goodluck Jonathan six years rule.”
“Apart from that, Pa Clark is aged and supposed to be taking advisory roles in Niger Delta issues as a father. It should be noted that this fresh mandate is a call by stakeholders in the Niger Delta project to inject new lease of life into the region,” he added.
Etaga asserted: “We have resolved and therefore call on the federal government to henceforth work with PNDPC as any further engagements with PANDEF will breach the peace as enjoyed in the region.”
UYLA leaders continue feud over PANDEF
Nevertheless, the Vice President, Urhobo Youth Leaders Association, UYLA, Comrade Godwin Okporoko, reiterated his stand that recent statements by its secretary, Olorogun Vincent Oyibode, supporting PANDEF activities were not authorized by the body,
He stated, “As secretary, Oyibode is expected to act as directed by his principals and not the other way round and he does not consult widely before going to media,” adding that he should stop using the name of the group to seek self-relevance and comic relief for PANDEF and government.”
Okporoko asserted: “At the appropriate time, UYLA will come out with a position after due consultation with other Urhobo stakeholders on the negotiation with Federal Government and development of the Niger – Delta region.
Oyibode in a counter statement, said: “Okporoko is attacking me because he lacks knowledge of what the Niger Delta issues are about. I am a Niger Deltan and secretary of UYLA, PANDEF is a regional organization, my president, Chief Francis Arhiyor attended the first inaugural meeting at the Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun. I was also in attendance and I followed up PANDEF activities from that time till date because it is a regional organization.”
The mounting tension in the region over both groups somewhat simmered down when RNDA announced six days after, September 10, the lifting of the suspension of the one week suspension on Clark and Mulade, “following pleas and persuasion from well-respected traditional rulers and stakeholders of the region.”
But, what seemed a breather was short-lived, as the collection still conferred legitimacy on the Ayemi-led PNDPC, saying: “The Federal Government should not take the two weeks ultimatum that is still counting, which we earlier issued to convey a fresh talk with the Pan Niger Delta People’s Congress, PNDPC, headed by the paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, HM Pere Charles Ayemi Botu, for granted and should blame itself for any harm done to oil facilities in the Niger Delta at the expiration of the ultimatum.”
“RNDA has withdrawn the one- week ultimatum given to the leader of the disbanded PANDEF, Chief E K Clark and one Alfred Mulade, Coordinating Secretary of PANDEF, following pleas from well- respected stakeholders since they failed to come out to state categorically the militants that gave them the mandate to dialogue on behalf of the region.
“Nobody apologized to Clark as insinuated by Mulade in a national daily, rather it is Clark that has been calling different people and begging them to support his disbanded leadership of PANDEF.”
“We wish to emphasize that Obong Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom state has lost touch with reality in the region… It was Senator Godswill Akpabio, who turned Akwa Ibom state around in terms of development; somebody like Attah should not have the temerity to dialogue for the region under any guise when he had the instrument of government to turn Akwa Ibom to paradise, but he did not,” the militants asserted.
They warned: “Nigerians should not celebrate the Federal Government’s claim that the nation had come out recession because it is too early as RNDA in coalition with other militant groups is ready to resume fresh attacks on oil installations across the region in a well-coordinated attack that will further deepen the nation’s economic woes judging from the fact that one of the indices used in measuring Nigeria’s outage from recession is crude oil.”
FG’s latest intervention
With the up to the minute declaration by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Tuesday, at Akure, Ondo State, that rapid development of the Niger Delta region was not optional to the Federal Government, which he evidenced with the disclosure that N2 billion had been released for the take-off of the Nigerian Maritime University, NMU, Okerenkoko, Delta State, among other things, many expect the militants threatening to resume fresh hostilities in the region to backtrack.
Takeoff of NMU, Okerenkoko, release of licenses for 10 Modular refineries to host communities, mobilization of contractors handling the East-West Road, award of pipeline surveillance contracts and payment of gas flaring penalty funds to host communities of Nigeria, are among the latest conditions by the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, and coalition of nine militant groups for temporal peace, while negotiations with the Ayemi-Botu-led PNDPC are on.
Bozimo peace group working behind closed-doors
Meanwhile, the Alaowei Bozimo group, brokering peace between PANDEF and PNDPC, was scheduled to hold a meeting with select leaders of the two groups yesterday.