PAN-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the apex socio-cultural organisation of the South-South geo-political zone, yesterday, threw its weight behind oil and gas producing communities in Itsekiri, Ijaw and Urhobo ethnic nationalities, Delta State, demanding development from the Federal Government.
National Publicity Secretary of the regional body, Ken Robinson, in a statement, said: “We advise the Federal Government to heed their demands and urgently put in place modalities to holistically address the Niger Delta issues. President Muhammadu Buhari should act fast and rightly.
“This position was taken after a virtual meeting of the forum’s national executive, in consultation with strategic and critical stakeholders. We urge them not to waiver, they should remain resolute and steadfast.
“The demands by the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Itsekiri and Urhobo groups are germane and congruent. The issues of marginalisation and exclusion, of neglect, discrimination, unfairness and injustice against Niger Delta people by the Buhari administration; the abandonment of the Export Processing Zone, EPZ; Gas Revolution Industrial Park Project; the relocation of the floating dock; the ownership of Oil Marginal Fields, and other matters raised variously by the groups, are issues that PANDEF has been talking about.
“Sadly, the Federal Government has been heedless, detached and carried on with unconcerned ease. The arising development where oil and gas producing communities and ethnic groups in Niger Delta are now issuing ultimatums and threats to the Federal Government, is therefore, not unexpected.
“We had warned that the people will soon run out of patience with the government. The country should not be surprised to see more oil producing communities and ethnic groups take similar steps. The Buhari administration cannot continue to take the goodwill of the people of the Niger Delta region for granted.”
FG ready for dialogue—Okowa
This came as Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, yesterday, said the Federal and state governments were making plans for dialogue on demands of oil bearing communities and tasked them to be patient.
Addressing newsmen in Warri, Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, who represented the governor, sued for peace, saying: “Last week, I called on our aggrieved oil producing communities to realise that results-oriented dialogue is a process, a painstaking process, not an event. The Federal Government has reached out to Governor Okowa-led state government.
“As a responsible state government, we have already maintained links with the Federal Government. I want to appeal to you to be patient. We will reach out to you soon. Disagreements and threats had chased away companies and some of the projects we are now demanding for. Please keep the unity and peace.
“With the coming on stream of key demands such as commencement of Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, and Federal Government approval of Escravos and environs, NNPC power project that will benefit about 50 Ijaw/Itsekiri communities in the area, we have reason to be positive that dialogue and patience will bring more results on the demands.”
No going back on our threat to shut down oil industry—Omadino communities
Meanwhile, Omadino Federated Communities, comprising Ode-Omadino, Esungbo, Egwa Tie, Egwa Kporo, Aghigho, Ogheye-Akpata, Ubaeyin, Eyin-Ogbe, Ubakporo, Oteghele, Ukpokiti, Uba-Okorotie, Okerenghigho, Uba-Kokodie and Ugbokoko in Warri South, Warri South-West and Warri North Local Government Areas of Delta State, has said there was no going back on their threat to shut down the oil and gas industry in the country over perceived marginalisation by the Buhari administration.
This is coming on the heels of the expiration of the nine-day ultimatum handed down to the Federal Government by the Federated Omadino Communities.
Chief Priest of Omadino and spokesman of the Federated Omadino Communities, Roland Yomere, who addressed newsmen in Warri, said after “meeting with key stakeholders at Ode-Omadino town, we have been pushed to the wall and if the government fails to meet our demands, they should be prepared for total shut-down as there is no going back on this movement for the development and emancipation of our people from the age-long oppression by the Nigerian government.”
Yomere reiterated the areas of marginalisation requiring President Buhari’s urgent attention to include, halting the current process of bids for the 57 Marginal Fields and come up with new modalities, where competent companies owned by Omadino indigenes as well as other Itsekiri sons and daughters, would be given “right of first refusal.
“Proper renaming of the Nigerian Maritime University to ‘Okerenghigho’ as opposed to the corrupted name ‘Okerenkoko’ to reflect the Supreme Court judgement in accordance with the rule of law and properly compensate our people.”
Calling on President Buhari to order immediate resumption of work at the multi-billion dollar Gas Revolution Industrial Park Project, GRIP, and Deep Sea Port in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, Yomere urged the Federal Government to direct the relevant MDAs/IOCs to embark on large scale shore protection/sand-filling projects in all Omadino Federated Communities and other Itsekiri riverine/oil producing communities.
They stressed the need for the immediate institution of process for the facilitation of the abandoned age-long Omadino-Escravos (Ugborodo) Road, electrification of the Federated Omadino Communities and other Itsekiri riverine communities, employment of Omadino and other eminently qualified Itsekiri graduates and technicians to reflect the Local Content Act in NNPC, NPDC, NGC and the IOCs, immediate relocation of the Corporate Offices of the IOCs to Omadino lands as well as restart of the abandoned Sapele – Ughuoton – Omadino Bye Pass Road. These are some of the other demands put forward to the Federal Government.