The Federal Government and Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF) met for several hours at the Presidential Villa on Thursday and agreed to partner to actualise government’s new vision for Niger Delta.
The meeting, presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, was attended by the Ministers of Environment, Niger Delta Development Affairs, State for Petroleum, and the Chairman of NDDC, Sen. Ndoma Egba.
Also in attendance were Chief Edwin Clark, Alabo Graham Douglas, Chief Timi Alaibe, Chief Alfred Diette-Spiff, former Akwa Ibom Gov. Victor Attah and a host of other Niger Delta leaders.
Elder statesman and leader of PANDEF, Clark, who addressed state House Correspondents at the end of the meeting described it as very fruitful and called on the people of the region to maintain peace and await the implementation of the vision.
““The message is that everyone should maintain peace,’’ Clarke said adding that the group had seen the commitment of the federal government to pursue its development agenda in the region.
““The meeting was excellent. We met with Mr Acting President and he was very honest, truthful, forth-right and we were very satisfied.”
Clark denied an ultimatum was issued to the federal government on the vision’s implementation but added that the parties agreed on many things with PANDEF and the ministers presenting their separate addresses and Osinbajo rounding off.
““We saw his genuineness, truthfulness, forthrightness; he is a gentleman and we support him and we are satisfied,” he said.
The PANDEF leader stated that the region would withdraw from its former position and embrace the path laid by the federal government for the development of the region.
According to him, the region and FG have agreed to work together noting that the issue of dialogue will also take place.
He assured the Niger Delta people that the 16-point agenda they presented to the FG was fully discussed as well as the government’s 20-point agenda.
On why the Niger Delta leaders were not speaking with one voice, the elder statesman said there were no other leaders in the region with dissenting voices.
He said that MEND was represented at the meeting noting that the group’s acclaimed spokesman did not exist.
“Jomo Gbomo does not exist as a human being. That is a ghost name and a fake name. MEND was here, all other organizations were here.
”I am the leader of the Niger Delta and every leader you can think of from Cross River to Edo state was here,’’ he stated.
Buttressing the points, he minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, acknowledged that there was no ultimatum from any part of the region to the federal government.
He said that the meeting was to find solutions to the Niger Delta issues adding that it was basically to explore how government had gone ahead with the fulfilment of the parties’ undertakings on the 16-point agenda raised during the tour of the region.