FORTY-ONE days after the coastal states of Niger Delta under the auspices of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, led by former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, the people are still unsure of Mr. President’s frame of mind.
Though the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had consistently re-assured that the President was ready to tackle the issues raised by the stakeholders from the oil region but was disturbed if they were capable of reining in the boys still bombing pipelines as of the date of meeting, PANDEF remained uncomfortable many weeks after with the apparent game of wits.
A top member of PANDEF told Sunday Vanguard in Asaba at the weekend: “Recently, we heard that the Federal Government was proposing a former Chief of Army Staff, General Theophilus Danjuma (retd), to head its Negotiating Team. We also heard that the security chiefs and some ministers were meeting over the matter. We do not really know what the stand of the government is on this matter.”
The prickly situation PANDEF found itself was not helped by the hostile response that trailed the meeting with Mr. President. There was jostling before and after the meeting on representation from different interest groups. Since the November 1 meeting, some ethnic nationalities have grumbled about the activities of PANDEF. The third General Assembly of PANDEF, held December 9 in Asaba, capital of Delta State, provided the right ambience for stakeholders to appraise the meeting with Buhari, recent developments in the region and overall prevailing political and economic situations in the
Clark, whose address was adopted as a working paper by the assembly, explained that Co-chairman of the Central Working Committee, CWC, of PANDEF and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, and Secretary, CWC, Ledum Mitee, were unavoidably absent because of their participation in the session by the Senate on the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB. He stated that even though the region had not heard from the President on the way forward, the November 1 meeting with him in Abuja was a success, as it broke the ice.