The Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the apex socio-cultural body of the Niger Delta people, has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day address, to the nation, as rhetoric, apathetic, and largely, a promissory note.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson and obtained by DAILY POST on Friday, PANDEF said it 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.
The group, which rated the address low said after 21 years of uninterrupted democratic rule, the least President Buhari should bequeath to Nigeria, is an Amended Electoral Act that would strengthen the Nation’s Electoral process, and guarantee credible, free and fair elections, Unfortunately, nothing of such was in his address.
PANDEF also regretted that the only achievement in the Niger Delta, President Buhari could cite in his address, was the supposed completion of an NDDC Head Office.
PANDEF further regretted that the NDDC has been reduced to political coliseums, alleging that Mr. President, only chose 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 socioeconomic 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 deathtrap. Phase 5 of the Road, from Oron – Calabar has been TOTALLY FORGOTTEN,” the statement read.
PANDEF, also called for unity and greater understanding amongst Nigerians, saying that the events of June 12, 1993; where, Nigerians shunned creed and tribal predilections, and voted enmasse for Chief MKO Abiola, a Southern Moslem, for president, with a Northern Moslem Running Mate, Babagana Kingibe; were indications of nationhood.
PANDEF, therefore, urged Nigerians irrespective of religion or ethnicity, to reflect on the state of the nation, in view of current realities and work in unity to tackle security challenges and socioeconomic problems bedevilling the country
The group, however, enumerated some grey areas, which should be a concern to the people and the government to include: banditry in parts of the North West, dreadful actions of the Boko Haram in the North East, activities of herdsmen in the North Central, and parts of South East, South West and South South, resultant environmental degradation of oil and gas exploration activities in the Niger Delta, and the dismal state of critical infrastructure in the region.