A former leader of the Ijaw National Congress, Professor Kimse Okoko has attacked Chief Edwin Kaigbodo Clark and other members of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) for not working for the interests of the Niger Delta region.
Okoko, in a recent interview with Sun, described Clarke and other members of PANDEF as ‘Political merchants’.He said;
The PANDEF people are merchants, I’m not interested in them. They are traders. How can you leave the important things we are asking for – ownership and control of our resources and itemized 16 items from the decision.
Why are you diluting the important aspects, you tuck it away, about 12 or so from the list of 16. Who are the people that you now give the oil blocs? They are merchants. Clark and co, they are merchants. They have invited me on many occasions to join them, but I refused because I don’t believe in PANDEF because they are all mainly for their selfish interests.
Okoko also condemned statements by some Northern leaders against Restructuring the country, He added;
That is rubbish, and that is only said by people from Northwest and Northeast. Middle Belt is not with them. From our own meetings, we have been able to accommodate the Middle Belt position. So, it is more than likely that the Middle Belt is with us. Northwest leaders are the ones obviously against restructuring, claiming that they don’t know what it is all about.
The present system benefits them so they don’t want any change. But we must change because we cannot continue like that in this country. We cannot.
Look at the recent appointment in the so-called restructuring in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Look at the appointment, they do it with impunity and it is completely unacceptable.
For our group, we keep pressing on. The things that are happening in this country, for example, the Arewa quit notice even though they said they have suspended it, that is their business. Look at the counter quit notice issued by the Niger Delta militants to Northerners and Yoruba in the region, and the Yoruba talking of forming the Oduduwa Republic. These are all forces moving this country to the precipice if something is not done.
We cannot accept this domination or bid to dominate perpetually the country by a few in the Northwest. This is completely unacceptable.
Professor Okoko also pointed out that all the Niger Delta wanted was for the government to “Restructure the country in line with what true federalism means. Ownership and control of resources to all the federating units, reduce the powers at the center to the federating units. These are the irreducible minimum for the Niger Delta”.