05 August 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Hours after meeting with the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on matters affecting the Niger Delta region, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has withdrawn the ultimatum given to the federal government to meet the demands it presented in November 2016.
On Monday, co-convener of the group, Chief Edwin Clark, had accused the current administration of not being sincere in its negotiation with the stakeholders of the region.
He had said if things continued that way until November 1, PANDEF would abandon the ongoing peace deal.
But speaking at the end of a meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Clark said leaders of the region had agreed to work with the government.
According to a statement by the spokesman of the acting president, Mr. Laolu Akande, the elder statesman said Osinbajo’s visit to the Niger Delta contributed to the peace in the region.
“The meeting was excellent. We met with Mr Acting President. He was very forthright, truthful. We were very satisfied,” Clark was quoted to have said.
“There is no ultimatum. We agreed on many things and we came in with our own address, presented it; the ministers presented their cases. Mr Acting President rounded it off and we saw in him the genuineness, truthfulness and forthrightness.
“He is a gentleman and we support him. We are satisfied. We did not use the word ‘ultimatum’. We only said we would withdraw. But we have agreed to work together.”
Osinbajo had expressed the full commitment of the federal government to realise a “new and prosperous” Niger Delta developed through “forthright partnerships” between the federal government, state governments, private sector and local communities.
“We are fully committed and thankful for your contributions and feedback. We are working on this day by day. From the beginning, we took the 16-point demand very seriously and we also developed our own plan mostly based on those demands,” he said.
“Personally, I believe the issues of the Niger Delta must be addressed. When I undertook the visit to the Niger Delta region, my sole intention for participating in this process is that we need forthrightness and a hands-on approach.
“There is no week that has passed that I‘ve not held one meeting or the other on the Niger Delta issue. I’ve spent quality time looking at how we can implement this (new vision).”
The acting president said the government would implement the new vision in a way that is fair to all parties.
“It can’t be done overnight. We are also looking at the integrity of the process so we can meet our targets. We are not out of line. Everything is on course the way we set it out. We have got to do it right,” he said.
PANDEF also agreed to join the inter-ministerial group, consisting of all relevant ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, with the involvement of relevant state governments led by the acting president.
The group meets regularly to drive the different initiatives and ensure effective and ongoing implementation of the government’s Niger Delta vision.