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Thursday, 17 November 2016

Niger-Delta Leaders Split over Demands on Federal Government

Leaders of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, a coalition of monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of the Niger Delta region, led by former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, were dumbfounded, Tuesday, by the action of the co-chairman of the forum’s Central Working Committee, CWC, His Royal Majesty, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, who led a separate group to make fresh demands on the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, in Abuja.

Chief Clark nominated HRM Diete-Spiff, the Amanayabo of Twon-Brass in Bayelsa State to read PANDEF’s 16-point demand when the leaders met President Muhammadu Buhari on November 1 in Abuja and due to his position as co-chairman, questions are being asked on his new group, Niger Delta People’s Congress, NDPC.



Head of Media, NDPC and PANDEF member, Mr. Hendrik Opukeme, however, told Vanguard that there was no cause for alarm, as there was no rift between PANDEF and the new group.

According to him: “Not necessarily a split, but key issues from the agitators were not adequately presented. Secondly, most of their representatives were shut out by PANDEF.

Rather, expired persons and government apologists took over PANDEF.” Many PANDEF leaders approached by Vanguard yesterday, kept sealed lips on the matter with some describing it as disgusting, pointing out that leaders of the forum were not in the know of the new group.

One of them said: “PANDEF is going to meet over it and a general decision will be taken. It is not a case of asking me my personal opinion of what HRM Diete-Spiff did. We have to meet and find out why something like this happened and issue a formal statement.”

Another said: “The truth is that after the PANDEF meeting, some part of Niger Delta and some civil society groups felt not properly carried along in the scheme of things, hence this meeting with the Vice President.”

A source, who attended the Tuesday meeting of NDPC with Prof Osinbajo said: “The conveners of NPDC, I must confess, are not comfortable with PANDEF leadership, hence they went through King Diete Spiff. Though I am not too comfortable with the conveners, I had to attend because my people insisted. That is why I do not want to make comment openly for now, but at the appropriate time, I will speak my mind.”

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