By Precious Akutamadu
#TrackNigeria: A group of former Niger Delta agitators -the Peace Ambassadors of Niger Delta (PAND) on Wednesday endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari as its preferred Candidate for the Feb. 16, presidential election.
This was disclosed in a communiqué issued and signed by Mr Ebikabowei Victor, the leader of PAND, at the end of a one-day workshop organised by the group in Port Harcourt.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the workshop had the theme: “A Violence-free Election in Niger Delta’’.
Victor said the aim was to enlighten Niger Delta residents on the need to relate with the government to achieve success and peaceful election in the region.
“We, the leaders of the Peace Ambassadors of Nigeria have resolved and taken a common front as it concerns the interest of our region in the context of the upcoming general election in Nigeria.
“The Niger Delta is the most important region of this country; our region produces over two million barrels of oil daily, and has contributed about seven trillion naira to Nigeria’s revenue within the last eight years.
“On this ground alone, the historical marginalisation of the region is one of the several ironies of the Nigerian state.
“Over time, we have had to embrace non-violent agitation and meaningful engagement to advance the interest of the Niger Delta,’’ he said.
Victor said the main highlight as it concerned the 2019 election is that the group had decided to endorse the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office.
“Our endorsement is not partisan with the All Progressives Congress (APC), rather it is as a result the way the present administration has shown interest in handling and resolving critical issues in the region.
“In spite of the tense beginning and moments we have had with the current administration following the defeat of our brother, Good luck Jonathan.
“We have formed a new partnership for the Niger Delta and have seen a deep seated commitment to addressing the issues that we in the region are facing.
“We have to give special credit to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for painstakingly leading the engagements in the Niger Delta and assuring us of his plan,’’ he stated.
Victor lauded Buhari for not bowing to pressure to scrap the Amnesty Programme, adding that rather an inclusive Amnesty programme had emerged.
He listed some achievements of the Amnesty Programme to include the enrollment of over 30,000 beneficiaries and the release of N35 billion to the programme.
Victor noted the agreement to invest in modular refineries and training of youths for the programme, the Ogoni cleanup exercise and the construction of Bodo City/Bonny road.
Others, he said, are the construction of the East/West road, the 20-points plan for Niger Delta which included creation of 100,000 jobs for youths by oil companies operating in the region.
“As witnesses to the commitment of this government to these issues that we have presented over the years through various fora and the tangible achievements we have seen in the region over the last four years, we have decided to endorse the government to continue beyond 2019,’’ he stressed.
Earlier, Mr Ethanor de Marlberg, the Strategic Communication Expert in his lecture, urged the group to not only communicate with the government but to also develop good relationship with the government like they were families.
He said that good interaction and cordial relationship with the government was a gateway to peace and success in the region.(NAN)