…Describes President’s speech as “rhetoric, promissory note as usual”
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
PAN Niger- Delta Forum, PANDEF, the apex socio-cultural body of the Niger Delta people, yesterday, lamented that President Muhammadu Buhari has not only forsaken, but continued to exhibit bias against the region in the last five years.
National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Hon Ken Robinson, in a press statement, reacting to Buhari’s Democracy Day broadcast, said his administration has also abandoned the strategic East-West Road that traverses six states, turning it to a sanctuary for criminals.
The group scored his government low, describing his Democracy Day address to the nation, as “rhetoric, apathetic, and largely, a promissory note, as usual.”
“On this Democracy Day, PANDEF, had expected to hear commitment from Mr. President on the Amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act, which he withheld assent in 2019; particularly, with off-season Gubernatorial Elections around the corner.
“After 21 years of uninterrupted democratic rule, the least President Buhari should bequeath to Nigeria is an amended Electoral Act consistent with citizens’ expectation to strengthen the nation’s electoral process and guarantee credible, free and fair elections, where votes would truly count. Surprisingly, nothing of such was in his address.
“PANDEF, further regrets that the only achievement in the Niger Delta that President Buhari could cite in his address is the supposed completion of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Head Office.
“In the five years of the Buhari administration, all that the Niger Delta region has continued to witness are unfulfilled promises, unjust discrimination, and neglect,” the regional body fumed.
It said: “PANDEF, considers as shameful the situation where the interventionist agencies established to escalate socio-economic development in the region, particularly, NDDC, has been reduced to political coliseums, and Mr. President has conveniently chosen to remain an unconcerned spectator.”
“Apparently, the only interest of the federal government in the Niger Delta is sustained crude oil production. While the people of the region continue to suffer socio-economic and infrastructural depravity, the strategic East – West Road, which traverses six states of the region has been abandoned, and rendered a sanctuary for criminals, and a death trap. Phase five of the road from Oron – Calabar has been totally forgotten.
“The nation cannot continue to journey in its extant trajectory, and hope to be reckoned with, in the comity of nations.
“PANDEF, therefore, implores, President Buhari to urgently, in national interest abjure the impairing prejudiced propensity of his administration and assume a broader and fairer approach to the conduct of affairs of state.
“On the occasion of Democracy Day, PANDEF, also calls for unity and greater understanding amongst Nigerians. The events of June 12, 1993 where Nigerians shunned creed and tribal predilections and voted en masse for Chief MKO Abiola, a Southern Moslem for president, with a northern Muslim running mate, Babagana Kingibe, are symptomatic of the true essence of nationhood.
“We, therefore, urge all Nigerians, irrespective of religion or ethnicity, to reflect on the state of the nation in view of current realities. As citizens of Nigeria, whether, north, south, east or west, we are one people. We should, therefore, fashion out ways to collectively deal with the grim social, economic and security challenges confronting the country.
“The banditry in parts of the north west, and the dreadful actions of the Boko Haram in the north east, should be of concern to all Nigerians. Just as the atrocious activities of herdsmen in the north central, and parts of south east, south west and south south, should be disconcerting to all.
So also, should the resultant environmental degradation of oil and gas exploration activities in the Niger Delta, and the rather paradoxical and dismal state of critical infrastructure in the region.
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