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2023: No Restructuring, No Election – PANDEF Warns



The leadership of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has anchored their participation of the group and by extension the people of Niger Delta in the 2023 general election on the restructuring of the country for the realization of true federalism.

The Leader of PANDEF, the umbrella body coordinating the interest of the people of the region, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, who made the position of the group known in an exclusive interview with Crystal Express in Uyo explained that they are working in synergy to achieve this with the middle Belt Forum and others.

According to Nkanga, a former military Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
“The main agenda which we have gone round the country canvassing is that Nigeria should be restructured. So what is more important to us is somebody that will come and restructure Nigeria. We are working in synergy with Middle Belt leaders on this project. We have resolved that there will be no election without restructuring of Nigeria. If ever we are to support election or any candidate, there must be a clear-cut agreement and understanding that there will be restructuring of the country for us to participate, otherwise no restructuring, no election for us”.

Nkanga, a onetime commander of the Presidential Air Fleet, however gave a window in which the group may also participate or support any candidate in the election before the restructuring exercise. In his words, “Again if we are to support any candidate for future elections at all, it will be the person with the greatest assurance and sincerity that there must be restructuring after the polls.” Otuekong Nkanga who explained that the future progress of the country will be made possible when the nation embraces restructuring warns that the nation may restructure herself if the leaders of the country fail to carry out the exercise now, stressing that it will not be a good experience if the exercise comes without the direct control of those in power.

The PANDEF leader who lamented that the 16 point agenda the group handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari at the height of the crisis in the Niger Delta region, said it will be difficult for peace to prevailed in an atmosphere paved by injustice.

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In his words, “When we offered the 16 point agenda, it was in the interest of this country. The young men in the creeks at that time were blowing oil pipelines which forced Nigeria into recession in 2016 as oil production dropped from about 2 million barrels of crude oil per day to about 600/700 thousand barrels per day. It was when the Federal Government needed dialogue to settle the matter and there was nobody to talk with that accelerated the birth of PANDEF. We came together and put out the 16 point agenda. If you look at the agenda, you found out that it is not all about money; some of what we have there will not cost any money but just political goodwill. As the President assured then that it will be a working document, we thought we were on the same page in order to achieve lasting peace in the Niger Delta. It is easy to talk about development but there can’t be development in the absence of peace and there can’t be peace if there is no justice”.

The PANDEF leader also expressed support to the leaders and people of the South West region for the setting up of their region’s security outfit code named ‘Amotekun’ noting that plans are in top gear to float similar outfits in the Niger Delta and other regions of the country to ensure adequate protection of lives and property.

Throwing more light, Nkanga highlighted,”The South South and Middle Belt Forum have before now even agreed that we cannot sit down and be slaughtered like goats. The people who are doing the slaughtering are not condemned by the Federal Government but only their acts. The world leaders labeled Boko Haram as the second most deadly terrorist group in the world but the Nigerian government is quiet about that and they are here asking farmers and herdsmen to live together. Today the terrorist group has gone from Boko Haram to Islamic State of West African, expanding across the continent and you think people should fold their hands. We are happy that it is the South West that kick started the security outfit. When they turned the Middle Belt to a killing field and extending it to Edo and Delta, we warned that it is a national crises, because when they finish with the Middle Belt and South South, they will extend it to South West. I am happy that the South West has taken the decision. Others are at different stages and will soon manifest as to secure yourself is your fundamental right anywhere in the world. Nobody can stop anybody from doing that. What the South-West did was to effectively co-ordinate the existing vigilante groups before people take to self help in securing themselves. The central security system cannot do it all alone. There is nothing to suggest that we must have on unitary system of security in the country with the present circumstances and it is the unitary system of government against federalism that is killing the country today”.

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