The factional dialogue group, Pan Niger Delta Peoples Congress on Thursday said the Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Forum had lost the mandate to speak for the people of the region.
The PNDPC, therefore, called on PANDEF leaders to stop parading themselves as representing the region in the ongoing negotiation with the Federal Government.
In a statement issued on Thursday by the PNDPC’s Coordinator, Media Affairs, Chief Monday Whiskey, the group noted that Clark, a former Federal Commissioner for Information, and other leaders of PANDEF could no longer represent the people of the Niger Delta in any dialogue.
The group also disassociated itself from the quit notice issued to Yoruba and northerners living in the region as well as the separatist agitation by a coalition of Niger Delta Agitators.
Whiskey stressed that they believed in the Nigerian project.
He said, “We are not opposed to the Clark group – Pan Niger Delta Forum. To be fair to them, they started this current process but there are people who gave them the mandate – the ex-agitators. But somewhere along the line, these ex-agitators discovered that their method of operation was not in tandem with modern day realities.
“It is these ex-agitators who withdrew the mandate earlier given to PANDEF that gave the same mandate to us in the PNDPC to represent them at this stage of the negotiation. We are not fighting with Chief Edwin Clark because he is our father but when those whom you represent decide to change the pace of the dialogue, you have no choice but to obey those who gave you the mandate.
“The peace process belongs to the people of the Niger Delta; they nominated members of PANDEF in the first place. If they have withdrawn the nomination and given it to another group, of course the new group takes over.
“We are not confronting or fighting anybody or group. Do not forget that most of the leaders of the PNDPC are also members of PANDEF and for anybody to say the two groups are fighting each other over who speaks for the Niger Delta mean such persons lack proper information about the two groups.”
Whiskey added that the PNDPC was poised to expand the 16-Point Agenda submitted by PANDEF to make the document more inclusive of the demands of the people across the oil-rich region.
“Agreed that PANDEF had submitted the 16-Point Agenda but it is left for the Federal Government to implement it or not. Government can only implement whatever you have submitted in a peaceful atmosphere. Government can also decide on the ways it wants to implement it. We are even looking beyond what PANDEF submitted because there are so many demands that were not included in that document. We are looking at the possibility of including more things.
“As far as the Pan Niger Delta Peoples Congress is concerned, we believe that the government will give us a better negotiating opportunity now because we believe in dialogue, we don’t believe in being hostile to the government. We strongly believe that it is only when government has the enabling environment that we can achieve the desired development in the region.”