New Avengers: PANDEF appeals for calm

Chief Edwin Clark, PANDEF convener.

The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has appealed to members of the New Delta Avengers (NDA) to sheathe their swords and remain calm while efforts are being made to redress age-long woes bedeviling the region.

The appeal came from the convener of PANDEF and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark in a statement signed and made available to journalists on Tuesday in Warri, Delta State.

Clark, who was reacting to the threat statement issued by the NDA with a threat to attack critical oil and gas assets in Delta State due to alleged marginalization by the state government, appealed to the group to withdraw its threat.

“PANDEF is genuinely disturbed by this publication which has come amidst the prevailing turmoil occasioned by some ethnic agitations in our dear country, Nigeria.

Going by the allegations being canvassed by the New Delta Avengers, coupled with their threat of destruction of our vital national assets, PANDEF cannot afford to fold its arms, but has to quickly intervene and sue for the understanding of all to desist from any form of destructive action, as this will further put more damage to the already degraded economic and environmental conditions we suffer in the region,” the octogenarian noted.

He said with the recent visit by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to the Niger Delta region as a result of PANDEF’s visit to presidency on November 1, 2016, a relative peace and improvement in the country’s revenue earnings have been achieved.

Clark also promised to prevail on Niger Delta states like Cross Rivers and Bayelsa to establish commissions to manage the 13 per cent derivation funds.

“This is coupled with some positive pronouncements by the Federal Government such as the opening of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, which is being implemented, and the promise for the establishment of Modular Refineries, pipeline surveillance and asking the oil companies to relocate their headquarters to the region, so as to engage the youths.

“It must also be placed on record that PANDEF’s position remains the equitable utilization of the 13% derivation fund which must be applied for the benefit of host communities producing oil and gas.

“PANDEF insists that the 13% Derivation which is being paid from the Federation Account is meant for the development of the oil producing communities and not to be used for any other purpose. We note that this issue of 13% Derivation Fund and its misapplication by the State Governors started many years ago.

“We have also observed that only the Governments of Delta, Edo and Ondo States have established Commissions to manage the funds, whereas Rivers, Bayelsa and Cross River States have refused to establish such Commissions.

“Every attempt to request these State Governments to establish these Commissions and implement the purpose of the setting up of the 13% Derivation Fund have failed for over 10 years now.

“This matter was discussed extensively at our Meeting in Asaba, on the 9th of December 2016, where our Communiqué succinctly captured the critical need for State Governments to demonstrate equitable fiscal responsibility and accountability in the running of the affairs of their various States as regards the application of the 13% Derivation Funds.

And this is a matter we are taking up with the Niger Delta State Governors, particularly the six coastal States,” Clark reiterated.

According to him, issues raised by the NDA against the Delta State governor, will be expeditiously addressed by PANDEF.

“I wish to appeal to you, my dear children of the New Delta Avengers and all other groups, on behalf of PANDEF, to withdraw your ultimatum and give peace a chance because any action taken by you/us, will no doubt have adverse national consequences and may jeopardize the seemingly good intentions of the Federal Government for the region.

“And will definitely affect the economy of the entire country and not only that of the Delta State.

“PANDEF is also working hard to ensure that all the issues raised in the 16-Point Agenda will be looked into by the Federal Government.

“I am issuing this statement as the Convener of PANDEF and as your father, concerned about the safety, welfare and future of his children,” the former Minister of Information pleaded.

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