Youths from the Niger Delta region, under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) Youth Wing, rejected the endorsement of the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, by the national leadership of PANDEF.
The PANDEF youth wing, instead, announced their support for Atiku and his running mate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
Rising from an emergency meeting on Sunday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, the headquarters of PANDEF, the leadership of PANDEF Youth Wing, South-south States, said those who purportedly endorsed Obi in a meeting of the Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Leaders recently were on their own.
However, a group of former agitators from the Niger Delta distanced themselves from the endorsement of the Atiku/Okowa ticket for Saturday’s presidential election by the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA). The 21st Century Youths of Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience (21st CYNDAC), in a statement signed by Gen. Izon Ebi, and made available through email, described the Delta State governor and vice-presidential candidate of PDP, Okowa, as a political saboteur.
The group said the press statement by RNDA endorsing the Atiku/Okowa ticket on behalf of the ex-militants in the Niger Delta was not only misleading, but also selfish and unpatriotic, especially when they were not consulted.
While the group insisted they had all agreed on Obi as the choice for the presidential election on Saturday, PANDEF youth wing claimed that Obi’s endorsers did so without due consultation with stakeholders, particularly the youth body of PANDEF, comprising national officers and state chapters’ chairmen.
The PANDEF youths’ rejection of Obi’s endorsement was contained in a communiqué after the meeting presided by National Deputy Youth Leader, Vincent Oyibode.
The communique was signed by Edo State Youth Leader, Don Ben; Rivers State Youth Leader, Mr. Henry George; Akwa Ibom Youth Leader, Mr. Victor Asuquo; Cross River Youth Leader, Chief Ani Esin; Delta State Youth Leader, Chief Sylvester Okumagba; and Bayelsa State Youth Leader, Mr Berenengia Samuel.
The PANDEF youths argued that a meeting where sensitive decisions were to be taken must involve all national executive officers and state chapter chairmen.
They stated, “There was no time PANDEF ever held a meeting to debate the need to participate or take a position as a group on the 2023 general elections and that those who purportedly endorsed Obi at that meeting spoke for themselves and not PANDEF and the South-south region of the Niger Delta.
“That the major focus of PANDEF is to promote sons and daughters of the region on issues of public interest that bear direct and indirect impact on the well-being of the Niger Delta people, as that is the constitutional aim and objective of the PANDEF constitution.
“That the same persons, without any meeting with stakeholders, have given ultimatum to a son of the Niger Delta, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to drop his ambition for reasons best known to them and that this does not have the blessing of the youths of region.”
They sympathised with the families of youths who lost their lives in Edo State and other places as a result of the violent protests over the naira scarcity.
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja and Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa