Convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, has told the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government that “the patience of the youths and other critical stakeholders in the region is waning”.
He warned the administration not to take the patience and patriotism of the people of the region for granted.
Speaking in his Kiagbodo country home in Delta State, the elder statesman also lamented that jobs opening in the oil industry have been skewed in favour of the North.
Clark said, “I want to remind you all, that our (PANDEF) intervention in the direction of peace and security has continued to help the national economy and contributed substantially to its exit out of recession.
“From a drop in oil production to 800,000 barrels per day in 2016, today NNPC is producing over 2.3 million barrels a day, a fourfold increase.
“The 16-point agenda which we submitted to Mr President has yet to be properly addressed. The only tangible item that has been attended to is the take-off of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State.
“Our other requests such as the setting up of a Joint Negotiating Team for sustainable peace, relocation of oil companies back to the region…are all totally neglected or being addressed with unfulfilled promises.”
While debunking the Nigerian military’s claim that their presence in the region had led to a sharp increase in the nation’s oil production and halted attacks by suspected Niger Delta militants, the former federal commissioner stressed that the current peace in the region was a result of the intervention of PANDEF.
“Let me note that the total federal budget in the last three years has been as follows: 2016(N6.07tn); 2017 (N7.44tn); now N9.1tn has been appropriated for 2018.
“Similarly, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo announced a few days ago that the Federal Government had so far invested N510bn on infrastructural development in the last three years. Let me also recall a recent statement by the Minister of Finance that the 2017 budget was overspent by a large sum of N1.6tn.
“Can the Federal Government in truth and good conscience tell us how much of this mammoth sum came to fund projects in the Niger Delta? Is this fair, just and equitable? Is this how people who contribute so much to sustain national economy should be treated?
“We want to call on the Federal Government, once more to retrace its steps regarding the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg.
“We continue to enjoin our people to be law-abiding and peaceful, but the total non-action and disregard are eroding the trust which our people place in our ability to continue to interface on their behalf.
“Our young people and communities must not always be provoked to adopting unorthodox means to pursue their legitimate and unalienable rights as Nigerians and particularly as communities from where the wealth of the country is coming.”