Published On: Fri, Aug 4th, 2017

Niger Delta Negotiators Back Down On Threat, Pledge Commitment To Peace Pact

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By Sadiq Umar – The Niger Delta stakeholders under the platform of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has withdrawn the ultimatum given to the federal government to meet the demands it presented in November 2016, just as it resolved to give peace a chance in its negotiation with the federal government.

Leader of PANDEF, Edwin Clark, who spoke to journalists after the group’s meeting with acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Thursday expressed confidence in the government’s commitment to its 20point agenda for the region.

The group had earlier accused the government of reneging on the negotiations it had with the leaders of the region, threatening to back out of the peace pact.

But speaking at the end of a meeting with Mr. Osinbajo on Thursday in Abuja, Mr. Clark said leaders of the region had agreed to work with the government.

In a statement by Laolu Akande, spokesman of the acting President, Mr. Clark was quoted as saying that PANDEF was satisfied with the government’s effort to resolve the issues.

“The meeting was excellent. We met with Mr. acting President. He was very forthright, truthful. We were very satisfied,” Clark was quoted to have said.

“There is no ultimatum. We agreed on many things and we came in with our own address, presented it; the ministers presented their cases. Mr. acting President rounded it off and we saw in him the genuineness, truthfulness and forthrightness.

“He is a gentleman and we support him. We are satisfied. We did not use the word ‘ultimatum’. We only said we would withdraw. But we have agreed to work together.”

Mr. Osinbajo expressed the full commitment of the federal government to realize a “new and prosperous” Niger Delta developed through “forthright partnerships” among the federal government, state governments, private sector and local communities.

“We are fully committed and thankful for your contributions and feedback. We are working on this day by day. From the beginning, we took the 16-point demand very seriously and we also developed our own plan mostly based on those demands,” he said.

“Personally, I believe the issues of the Niger Delta must be addressed. When I undertook the visit to the Niger Delta region, my sole intention for participating in this process is that we need forthrightness and a hands-on approach,” Mr. Osinbajo stated.

“There is no week that has passed that I‘ve not held one meeting or the other on the Niger Delta issue. I’ve spent quality time looking at how we can implement this (new vision).”

The acting President said the government would implement the new vision in a way that is fair to all parties.

“It can’t be done overnight. We are also looking at the integrity of the process so we can meet our targets. We are not out of line. Everything is on course the way we set it out. We have got to do it right,” he said.

PANDEF also agreed to join the inter-ministerial group, consisting of all relevant ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, with the involvement of relevant state governments led by the acting President.

The group meets regularly to drive the different initiatives and ensure effective and ongoing implementation of the government’s Niger Delta vision.

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