Niger Delta leaders withdraw threat to pull out

•It’s devolution of powers or N’Delta Republic –ex-militants insist  •Disown Clark, Diete-Spiff, others

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Fred Itua, Abuja

STAKEHOLDERS from the Niger Delta, under the aegis of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), after the meeting  with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, last night withdrew their November 1 ultimatum in which they urged the Federal Government to meet their 16-point agenda or they withdraw from the peace talk.

Speaking to State House Correspondents at the end of the close to five hours meeting, the leader of the group, Edwin Clark, described discussion as “honest, truthful and forthright,” adding that they were “very very satisfied.”

He said: “No more ultimatum. We agreed on many things. They came with their own address; the ministers all spoke, presented their cases and at the end, the Acting President rounded it up. We saw his genuineness and forthrightness; he is a gentleman. We are satisfied. We have agreed to work together and the issue of dialogue must take place. 

“The message we are sending back home is that we had the opportunity to meet with Mr Acting President and we discussed our 16-point agenda and government’s 20-point agenda, and we are all satisfied. We all agreed that everyone should maintain peace.”

He denied that the people of  Niger Delta were  not speaking with one voice, insisting: “We are speaking with one voice.”

On  MEND disassociating itself from PANDEF, Clark replied: “MEND was in the meeting. Jomo Gbomo does not exist as a human being, that is a ghost name, fake name. Other organisations were here. I am the leader of the Niger Delta and every leader you can think of, from Cross River to Ondo State, were all here today.”

Minister of Petroleum, Ibe  Kachikwu, who also addressed newsmen, said the environment of the meeting was not that of ultimatum, and that the group had pledged its loyalty to the government.

He said: “We discussed how far we have gone with the implementation of the 16-point agenda. Several issues relating to the university, the development of the region, amnesty programme, NDDC operations in the Niger Delta. It was very exhaustive.

“Today’s was environment of peace, calm, friendliness and mutual dialoguing of issues, where we are coming from and most pressing issues that they have.

“There is more consensus; it is not an alarm meeting that we are going to pullout of the negotiations. They did, in fact, pledge their loyalty and their willingness to continue to work with us.

“I didn’t see an environment of ultimatum here.”

Those at the meeting include: Amayanabo of Brass, Alfred Diete-Spiff, Victor Attah, Senator Ndoma Egba, Don Etiebet, Timi Alaibe, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, Tony Uranta, Hosa Ogunbor, Stella Omu, Godknows Igali, Graham Douglas, ministers of Petroleum, Kachikwu, Niger Delta, Usani Usani and Coordinator of Amnesty Office, among others.

The FG/PANDEF meeting nothwithstanding, a new group, the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators (CNDA), has issued a fresh set of demands to the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government, warning that failure to adopt full devolution of power and fiscal federalism, they would declare Niger Delta Republic.

The agitators also disowned the PANDEF led by Chief Edwin Clarke.

In a statement signed by their different heads, the agitators said they would work with similar groups in the South-East and South-South to ensure that their objective to actualise the Niger Delta Republic.

Those who signed the statement included General John Duku of the Niger Delta Watchdogs and convener, Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators; General Ekpo Ekpo of Niger Delta Volunteers; General Osarolor Nedam of Niger Delta Warriors and Major-Gen. Henry Okon Etete of Niger Delta Peoples Fighters.

Others were Major-Gen. Asukwo Henshaw of the Bakassi Freedom Fighters; Major-Gen. Ibinabo Horsfall of the Niger Delta Movement for Justice; Major-Gen. Duke Emmanson of Niger Delta Fighters Network; Major-Gen.

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