Urhobo members of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) met at Agbarho in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State on Friday 15th September to review the forum’s activities vis a vis the Federal Government’s handling of issues affecting the Niger Delta region. The meeting was presided over by Professor G. G. Darah with over one hundred people from ten local government areas of Delta State and Urhobos in Bayelsa State in attendance.
Briefing the meeting on the activities of PANDEF since it was founded, Professor Darah commended the group for being able to convince the region’s youths to lay down arms and embrace dialogue. He attributed the gradual economic stability being experienced by the nation to PANDEF’s intervention.
The forum passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of Chief E. K. Clark and urged all other groups in the region to identify with the Clark-led PANDEF. Speakers insisted that PANDEF was not an Ijaw organisation, but an alliance of over fifty oil producing ethnic groups in the Niger Delta. Major resolutions taken at the meeting included a call on the Federal Government to expeditiously attend to the 16-point agenda and a warning to Fulani herdsmen terrorizing Urhoboland to desist from acts capable of breaching peace. The gathering also supported the call for the restructuring of Nigeria based on fiscal federalism and 100% resource control. It also supported the creation of more states, especially the New Delta State to encompass the present Delta Central and Delta South Senatorial Zones as recommended by the 2014 National Conference while making a case for the states as federating units. It was further resolved that oil companies operating in Urhoboland should move their headquarters there just as pipeline surveillance and security contracts for oil facilities in Urhoboland should be awarded to the Urhobo people. It was also agreed that amnesty provisions should be extended to Urhobo militants and advocacy groups.
A highlight of the meeting was the report by stakeholders giving different but related perspectives to the Niger Delta crisis. Hon. Evans Iwurie, member representing Ethiope East Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly, reported the menace of Fulani herdsmen in his constituency and the effort he made in checking it. Chief Vincent Oyibode briefed the meeting on the outcome of the recent meeting between the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibajo and Niger Delta stakeholders in Akure. Others who spoke were representatives of Host Communities (HOSTCOM), Urhobo Security Network (USN) and Urhobo Peculiar Advocate (UPA).
Some of those in attendance were Professors S. W. E. Iboje, Temi Akporhonor, A. S. Akpotor, Atare Otite, Victor Jike, Chief Emmanuel Okumagba, Chief Raphael Okene, Chief George Ugen, Chief Westham Adehor, Chief Ruth Timothy, Dr. Sunny Awhefeada, Comrade Peter Darah, among others.