By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
MILITANTS in the Niger Delta have inundated South-South leader and Convener of the Pan Niger –Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, with threat text messages and emails, asking him, former military governor of old Rivers State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, and ex-governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, to discontinue all engagements on the region’s peace process with the Federal Government as they have lost confidence in the body.
Sunday Vanguard learned that the militants and youths in the region had agreed to take their destiny in their hands and, consequently, notified the elders to step aside so that they would bring oil production in the country to zero since government was not interested in proper conversation.
They maintained that Niger Delta stakeholders, including traditional rulers, militants, youths, women and professionals, gave a clear mandate, last year, to PANDEF to discuss on their behalf with government, but it seemed the talks had stalled.
Speaking to Sunday Vanguard at his Abuja residence, at the weekend, Clark, who confirmed the threat messages, said: “I do not know who gave them my telephone numbers and email. I receive calls and messages everyday that they are tired, that they gave us 60-day window to discuss with the Federal Government, now almost a year after, they are tired.
“My telephones are filled up with text messages and threats. The last PANDEF meeting we held in Yenagoa, they sent me a message that they learned that we were having a meeting and that I should know they had lost confidence in us. They said some youths would be having a meeting in Port Harcourt and they would identify with the youths and publish it in the newspaper, and they published in Vanguard two days after, Monday, 17th July, warning that they had lost confidence in us.
“They mentioned me particularly and King Diete Spiff and Victor Attah, that we allowed ourselves to be used by these people, that they will not listen to us and that they will take their destiny in their own hands. So, they have been threatening, saying that they are tired of waiting.”
The PANDEF leader pointed out that the youths complained that nobody was listening to them anymore probably because they gave their mandate to the group, accusing that “we have taken money from government.”
One of the militant groups that warned PANDEF leaders, Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders, NDRC, claiming to be a pan-Niger Delta advocacy and liberation movement, in an electronic mail to Clark, earlier this month , said: “We honestly advise our eminent royal fathers and distinguished personalities in PANDEF to stop all engagements on behalf of the people and resources of the Niger Delta. Though we appreciate their sacrifice and service over the years, they have not been able to unshackle our people from the chain of slavery.
“We acknowledge the sacrifice of Chief E.K. Clark at 90 as well as the sacrifice of HRM Alfred Diete Spiff, His Excellency Victor Attah and all distinguished personalities of the PANDEF. But we want to state that slave masters do not and would never understand the language of platitude. We suspect collusion between them and the slave masters to further their personal interests.”
However, in an email to Sunday Vanguard, yesterday, the spokesperson for the group, WOI Izon Ebi, clarified: “The NDRC and the 21st century youths and agitators of the Niger Delta’s statement calling on PANDEF to stop its advocacy and representation of the Niger Delta people and its resources was not borne out of their ineffectiveness, rather, it was borne out of the fact that the mode and style of their advocacy has been overtaken by present day reality.
“We have resolved and are more determined to use all necessary means to take back our ancestral heritage by stopping all activities of exploration and exportation in Nigeria on the 31st of September 2017. And when that time comes, heaven will not fall.”
In previous statements, which jolted PANDEF and other stakeholders, the militants had declared: “Therefore, the 21st century youths of the Niger Delta do not have confidence in their advocacy. We, therefore, advise them to step down so that we can take our future and that of our children in our hands. We, the NDRC, and the 21st century youths of the Niger Delta equivocally state that there is nothing we would not give to unshackle our people from the chain of slavery.
“We would fight till the last drop of our blood until justice and equity is enthroned in our land because we cannot afford to bequeath this type of society to our children. Peace without justice is not the same as justice before peace. We would not allow anybody to bequeath peace of the grave yard on us.
“We are also aware of a section of the political north to ramp up bombing and insecurity in the north east to use it as a bulwark to capture political power in 2019, just as they did in 2015, though foisting an ineffectual political leadership in the country, we advise them to thread with caution, what worked in 2015 would not necessarily work in 2019
“The same means that pipelines were blown to bring our production to 800barrels a day from 2.5million can be activated again. We want the federal government to realize that the same way we blow and destroy one pipeline is the same way we are capable of blowing and destroying all pipelines in 24 hours because we have the records and maps of all pipelines and exporting terminals.
“The white shark, the custodian of the aquatic heritage is just waiting for the D-day. It is time for the federal government to know that our agitation today is borne out of marginalization and oppression, as championed by our late hero, Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro. The federal government should act fast because there is no time, as the clock is ticking.’’
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