The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has commended members of the National Assembly for revisiting the Bakassi issue and urged them to pursue the issue to a logical conclusion.
This is contained in a communique issued at the end of the Forum’s expanded National Executive Committee meeting held on Sunday in Uyo Akwa Ibom State capital, and signed by its National Chairman, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien.
Bakassi is a peninsula on the Gulf of Guinea, lying between the city of Calabar in Cross River State and the Rio del Ray estuary in Cameron.
Nigeria and Cameroon had for years engaged in a legal battle over the rightful owner of Bakassi. On October 10, 2002, the International Court of Criminal Justice, also known as the World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, formerly ruled that the Bakassi Peninsula belonged to Cameroon.
The forum which decried the rising rate of poverty in the Niger Delta caused by the deplorable condition of critical infrastructure urged all members of the National Assembly from the South-South to use their offices to foster unity, and peace, and to accelerate the socio-economic growth and transformation of the zone.
“PANDEF frowns that several sections of the East-West Road, (Eleme-Onne, Patani-Kiama-Mbiama), sections of the Port Harcourt- Aba, Benin-Auchi, Benin-Sapale-Warri, Benin-Agbor, Sapele -Agbor, Calabar -Itu, Ikot Ekpene-Aba, highways have all become impassable, suffocating social and economic activities in the areas to widespread poverty levels,” the communique reads.
“It is entirely unacceptable that the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg is being totally neglected, administration after administration.
“The forum demands immediate intervention works on the failed sections of the cited roads, and others, by the Federal Ministry of Works, and other relevant agencies, to, without further delay, ameliorate the sufferings of the people.
“The meeting commends the National Assembly for revisiting the Bakassi issue, which is of dire interest to the people and urges the National Assembly to pursue the issue to a logical conclusion.
“The forum notes that the unresolved issues arising from the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon on account of the World Court Judgement and the Green Tree Agreement continue to threaten the wellbeing of the Bakassi people, and the security of the southernmost part of the Niger Delta region.”
According to the communique, the NEC meeting which was attended by members of the Board of Trustees, National and State Executive Committees, and some of the critical stakeholders again commended President Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) for zoning the position of the Senate President to the Niger Delta.
PANDEF expressed confidence in Senator Godswill Akpabio’s ability to provide the needed leadership in directing the affairs of the Senate, and indeed, the National Assembly, to the utmost benefit of all Nigerians.
It congratulated the Governors of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta and Rivers States, on their victories at the poll and successful assumption of office as executive governors.
“PANDEF resolves to revisit its “16-Point Demand”, for representation to the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration.
“It calls on the Federal Government to revisit the issue of supporting the development of Modular Refineries in the Niger Delta Region, to stamp out unwholesome, unauthorized refining of crude, as a way of providing employment for the teeming youths in the Niger Delta Region, and to curb criminality.
“We strongly caution youths of the Niger Delta Region to desist from unwarranted utterances capable of undermining the smooth functioning of federal agencies with direct bearing on the socio-economic development of the region.
“Forum remains committed to engaging with all well-meaning critical stakeholders of the Region, irrespective of political inclination, in its efforts to foster unity, lasting peace, security and the sustainable development of the Niger Delta Region, for the benefit of present and future generations,” the communique further stated.