Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has stressed the need for Niger Delta governors and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) to work together to move the region forward.
Speaking in Government House, Yenagoa, when he hosted the PANDEF delegation led by its National Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (Rtd), Governor Diri noted that over the years, individuals from other regions had exploited the division in the Niger Delta to further impoverish the people.
He emphasised that time had come for Niger Deltans to speak with one voice.
In a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, the governor lauded the formation of PANDEF, which he said would help unite people of the region and foster development.
He further stated that the synergy between the governors and PANDEF would address the developmental challenges of the region.
He appealed to elders of the region to intervene in the conflict between Ijaw communities in Bayelsa and neighbouring Rivers State with a view to amicably resolving the lingering issues.
On the request by PANDEF for governors to ensure the Water Resources Bill before the National Assembly does not see the light of day, the Bayelsa helmsman said governors were already taking steps in that regard and expressed optimism that the bill would not sail through.
Governor Diri restated his advocacy for an upward review of the 13 per cent derivation to Niger Delta states to promote fairness.
His words: “We all have our national unions but PANDEF is the group that cuts across all of our various unions and therefore the only way forward is for there to be a synergy between the BRACED Commission, the governors of the Niger Delta states and the leadership of PANDEF.
“That way, I am sure that the very nagging issues of underdevelopment, neglect, insecurity and other constitutional matters that affect us as a people can be considered. I am sure that nobody will listen to us if we are divided the way we are today.
“The earlier we came together to talk about our development the better for us. It is only we that can give ourselves development. It is intrinsic and not external.”
Earlier, National Chairman of PANDEF, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, lauded Governor Diri for his passion to develop Bayelsa and prayed God to strengthen him and remove all forms of distraction.
He lamented the neglect of the Niger Delta region by the federal government and stressed the need for unity of purpose among Niger Deltans to develop the region.
Air Commodore Nkanga commiserated with the government and people of the state over the demise of some prominent Bayelsans, including the PANDEF National Vice Chairman, Late Chief Francis Doukpola.