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PANDEF Vs. PNDPC: Niger Delta Elders In Name Only? By Ifeanyi Izeze

November 1, 2017

If my Niger Delta people perish, as said by the Holy Bible, they solely perish for lack of knowledge of what it actually means to be selfless, sincere, honest, and straightforward in their dealings with each other.

If my Niger Delta people perish, as said by the Holy Bible, they solely perish for lack of knowledge of what it actually means to be selfless, sincere, honest, and straightforward in their dealings with each other. How did we get to this point where stomach scavengers pride themselves in the mischievous acts of draining solidarity amongst our people and mortgaging the future and wellbeing of the entire region? How else can anyone describe the insurrection by the new group that called itself; Pan Niger Delta People’s Congress (PNDPC) against the previous selfish gang- the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), if not to say it is a conspiracy of the selfish against the selfish?

How long can we allow this habitual perfidy against one another for selfish reasons to continue to drain solidarity and common-voice from our people? Let’s look at it: what was the reason given by the police for their action against PANDEF in Port Harcourt? According to the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Rivers State, Omoni Nnamdi (DSP), the decision to seal-off the meeting venue was to forestall a breakdown of law and order, as well as to avoid carnage:

“We sealed off the place due to security threat. There was a splinter group of that same PANDEF that threatened to disrupt the meeting. So, in order to forestall any breakdown of law and order following threats to disrupt the meeting, our men went there early enough to block the place; to forestall any kind of carnage. Until when they are able to resolve their internal wrangling, internal differences and come together with one voice, then, they can hold the meeting.”

The National Leader of PNDPC, one Charles Ayemi Botu, was widely quoted by media reports as accusing some elders in PANDEF of wanting to use the group as a platform to launder their image. So it can rightly be said that the major reason for forming PNDPC was to oppose the alleged self-centeredness and high handedness with which Chief Edwin Clark and the leadership of PANDEF have carried on since inception.

Is it not curious that the only reason that Botu and his co-travelers could dangle for their sabotage of the PANDEF’s Port Harcourt meeting was what a hitherto unknown militant group said in an online press statement? Is Charles Ayemi Botu synonymous (or rather working) with the new militant group, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers? Is he their spokesperson or he is the one-man splinter group and one-man RNDA? Abeg, make all of una go sit down!

Hear him: The same militant groups that confirmed legitimacy on PANDEF to represent them in negotiation with the government had passed a vote of no confidence in the leaders of PANDEF. “The boys, as I read, threatened to resume hostilities in the region if the meeting held yesterday because they don’t have confidence in the E.K. Clark-led PANDEF leading the region. The Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA and other agitators made it clear that they have lost confidence in the Clark-led PANDEF. It is shocking that PANDEF went round soliciting support from states. I am the leader of the newly formed Pan Niger Delta People’s Congress (PNDPC) with support from all genuine Niger Deltans.”

Agreed that PANDEF failed woefully as members including Chief Clark were more interested in trading their very narrow and selfish business and economic interests rather than the collective interests of our people, Botu’s PNDPC is not an alternative by whatever assessment because na the same people!

Botu is scheming to overthrow Clark who is currently parading himself as leader of the Niger Delta, abi? What is PNDPC bringing that in real terms is different from what PANDEF dished us? Do they even have the slightest idea of what the region should be doing and how they should go about it not only to get attention but to more importantly achieve the goals?

Recall that in less than 24 hours to the Port Harcourt PANDEF meeting, a new group emerged by an online press statement calling themselves the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) claiming that “Militant groups from the nine states of the Niger Delta met on Wednesday 26th October at the Benin River, Delta State, to insist that the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), which had hitherto been given the mandate to negotiate on their behalf remain disbanded.

They insisted that the Chief Edwin Clark-led PANDEF has now lost the authority to talk to the federal government on their behalf, noting that any agency of the government which continues to deal with PANDEF does so at its own risk.

In the statement signed by one Johnmark Ezonbi, RNDA cited reasons why they took the decision to include that members of PANDEF comprised mainly of former appointed or elected political office holders in the Niger Delta region who should be blamed for the current state of the region. The new group argued that while in power PANDEF members did not use their privileged position to positively impact on the lives of the people of the region.

“The RNDA and other agitating militants in the creeks of the region will not allow these failed leaders to thwart our genuine agitation for the development of the region. They cannot be trusted to speak on behalf of the region. PANDEF should know that the same militants who gave them the mandate has since withdrawn it and given it to a more robust transparent group of persons.”

Is it not a tragedy that now the entire region is being ruled or rather guided by faceless people parading as militants? Anybody who is schemed out of relevance, no matter the age, automatically starts threatening to be one group or another that is ready to blow up all the oil and gas pipelines in the region. Haba!

Ask me and I would tell you in plain words that no militant group (s) met anywhere in any Benin River. The mischief was executed by one person who used another two or three persons to market or rather blow it up. What are the names of the militant groups that met in Benin River to form RNDA? How long can we continue like this?

Now, let me speak to the shame of PANDEF, PNDPC, and all the overnight militant groups whether original or reformed: If the Niger Delta struggle is genuine, then it must be agreed that there are those we can by all qualifications call heroes of the struggle. Where are these people today? Every day we keep hearing of reform one thing or avengers of another thing, is it not curious that no single so called militant group  (not internet –based) has come up to demand explanation for the continued persecution of the real heroes of the Niger Delta struggle despite the blanket amnesty to militants of the region?

Is it not a shame that the real heroes are either in exile, in jail or on the run (Tompolo). Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, the best and abandoned leader of the Niger Delta struggle, Henry Okah, where is he- in jail in South Africa. Where is Tompolo- in hiding/on the run for his dear life? No matter whatever explanation anybody will give for the continued persecution of these and some other known faces of the struggle, that PANDEF or any of these so called militant groups threatening the government everyday has never for one day deem it fit to raise the cases of some of these supposedly sons of the Niger Delta, speaks volumes on the sincerity of PANDEF, PNDPC, NDA, RNDA, MEND and the fleet of other self-serving groups. In any aluta, is injury to one no longer injury to all? Search your souls! God bless Niger Delta/Nigeria!!


Ifeanyi Izeze writes from Abuja. He can be reached at [email protected]com.


Niger Delta