By Godwin Anene
Former Niger Delta militants have endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as their presidential candidate for this Saturday Presidential/National Assembly election.
This is coming barely two weeks after the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), which is an umbrella body of all Niger Delta ethnic nationalities in the region, had endorsed the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for president.
The former warlords under the Peace Ambassadors of Nigeria (PAND) made their declaration on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and vowed to work for the re-election of Buhari across all the states of the Niger Delta.
Popular former leader of the Movement of the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND, Ebikabowei Victor Ben alias Boyloaf made the declaration on behalf of the ex-agitators at a workshop organised by PAND in Rivers State.
The workshop was attended by crowd of former militants from across the region.
Boyloaf stated that the decision to endorsed Buhari was taken after series of consultations with top former militants in the region, saying that endorsement was not, however, “a sweeping endorsement of All Progressives Congress, APC, in the various elections coming up in 2019.”
While giving reasons for the endorsement, the former leading agitator added, “Our interest is presently being served by the present administration which has shown more resolve to engage critical issues of the Niger Delta beyond surface dressing of the past.
“From a tense beginning with the Buhari administration following defeat of Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, we have formed a new partnership of deep seated committed to advance the Niger Delta with special credit to Vice President Yemi Osibanjo for painstaking engagements assuring of plans for the region.”
The ex-agitators cited the sustenance and enlargement of scope and funding of the Amnesty Programme, pact to demobilise and replace illegal refineries with modular models, Ogoni cleanup and resolve to complete key road infrastructures in the region among other commitments that have informed the support for Buahri.
The PAND workshop was aimed to sensitise ex-agitators on peaceful conduct during the elections with a lecture focusing “Towards A Violent Free Elections In The Niger Delta” delivered by strategic communication expert, Elthanor We Marlberg.