Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson on Tuesday told the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) that the South-South Governors were committed to working with them to promote and protect the interests of the region.
The Governor Dickson, who is the chairman of SSGF, gave the assurance at the third General Assembly of PANDEF in Yenagoa, with the theme, “Appraisal of 16-Point Agenda: State of the Nation and the way Forward for A Sustainable Peace and Development in the Niger Delta region.”
The Governor, who maintained that, peace and stability was paramount in the development of the Niger Delta, stressed the need for the leaders in the region to work collectively to change the long perceived notion of insecurity in the region and promote the socio-economic and political viability of the region.
While reminding the Federal Government that the militarisation of the Niger Delta was not a solution towards resolving the issues, he however, said that the only battle to be fought was lack of economic inclusion and environmental terrorism in the region.
Dickson said, “There are parts of this country that are very happy to promote crisis and spread propaganda about insecurity in our region as a deliberate strategy of weakening this region economically.
“So, I want to use this opportunity to charge all our people-political, opinion and community leaders to continue to work for a stable and prosperous Niger Delta because in the end, whether we are able to bring prosperity and development to our people depends on the presence of security and stability.
“I want to also use this opportunity to make the point again that militarization of any community within any state in our region is not a solution. And in this Niger Delta, the battles to be fought are not the ones that tanks and soldiers should be deployed; the battles all of us should unite to confront and defeat in the Niger Delta, are the issues of environmental terrorism as I have always called it and the issues of gross neglect, under-development and lack of economic inclusion.”
The Governor Dickson, who aligned himself with the position of PANDEF, pledged to support the Forum to ensure that, its Headquarters Secretariat in Yenagoa functions optimally.
The National Leader of PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, in his address presented by Pastor Ziakede Aginighan, called on the Federal Government to urgently revisit the 16-point agenda of the Forum, as the patience of the youths of the region was running out.
He also urged the Federal Government to implement the 2014 national conference report, containing over 600 recommendations to tackle the challenges facing the country.
The octogenarian stressed the need for the Federal Government to raise a team to commence dialogue with PANDEF to ensure the sustainability of peace in the region, where crude oil production had significantly increased.
PANDEV also reaffirmed its position that the six states of the South-South zone do not form part of Biafra as claimed by some Biafran agitators, just as it equally condemned the quit notice issued by the Arewa youths to the Igbos, describing the action as a flagrant violation of the Nigerian constitution.
PANDEF decried the nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government in prevailing on the oil companies to relocate to their operational base as well as declare its position on the setting up of modular refineries in the region.