Elder statesmen in the Niger Delta have disowned the quit notice given to Yoruba and northerners to leave the oil-rich but environmentally devastated region by October 1, 2017 by a group of militants.
The leaders under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) said that the order cannot stand because it was not the consensus of the major stakeholders in the geo-political zone.
PANDEF led by the First Republic Information Minister, Chief Edwin Clark, in a statement on Sunday condemned the October 1stquit notice issued by some agitators in the Niger Delta to Yoruba and northerners to leave the region.
The group appealed to other Nigerians, especially from the North and the South West to ignore the ultimatum, declaring that a faceless group was behind it.
PANDEF in the statement signed by its Coordinating Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade, maintained that the so-called coalition cannot speak for the region, adding that there was no justification for the October 1st quit notice to other Nigerians in the Niger Delta.
Recently, the Arewa Youth Coalition had given Igbo living in the North October 1st deadline to quit the region because the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) clamour for Biafra Republic.
Up until now, no major northern body or high-ranking northerner except former Vice President Atiku Abubakar spoke against the threat, prompting the Ohanaeze Ndigbo to condemn the silence of the north over the quit notice.
Last week, the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, had ordered northerners and the Yoruba residing in the Niger Delta to leave the region before October 1st, 2017 and equally threatened to resume attacks on oil installations from that date.
But, in a reaction to the development yesterday, former Vice President and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, urged Nigerians to desist from the on-going threats and quit notices. He warned that if unchecked, the action could destroy the country.
On its part, PANDEF described the ultimatum by the militant group as most irresponsible which should be ignored by the Yoruba and northerners because it does not have the backing of the people.
Mulade said that “PANDEF wishes to advise all law-abiding persons from any section of the country, irrespective of tribe, creed or political affiliation, to remain calm, and go about their lawful endeavours, without fear of molestation, as everything is being done to ensure their safety and protection.”
He said that PANDEF as the pan Niger Delta body remains committed to the attainment of peace and sustainable development of the region and will constructively engage the Federal Government and other stakeholders for better living conditions for the people.
Mulade said: “This call, coming at a time when PANDEF leadership and stakeholders had a very useful meeting with Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) at the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Niger Delta, a few days earlier, is certainly not an attractive venture. Indeed, this group should know that there is no basis for this kind of this action; it is most irresponsible and should be discountenanced.
“PANDEF, therefore, urges all our compatriots in the Niger Delta Region, particularly the youths to remain calm, patient and patriotic, as we re-double our efforts towards the peaceful resolution of the challenges in the region, including the restructuring of the country along the lines of fiscal federalism,” he said.
The elders explained that a meeting between PANDEF and the relevant stakeholders would hold soon to discuss the concessions they reached with Osinbajo at the recent Inter-Ministerial Committee meeting on the Federal Government’s commitment to dialoguing with the leaders of the region.
He added that the meeting would discuss among other issues the “immediate take-off of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko; the relocation of head and operational bases of oil companies to the Niger Delta; the inclusion of PANDEF in the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Niger Delta; the setting up of modular refineries in the region, and the improved funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Presidential Amnesty Programme.”