President Umru Yar’Adua has advised the Niger Delta region to embrace peace and support development initiatives in the region.
The president also reaffirmed his administration’s readiness to invest in power to eradicate poverty.
President Yar’Adua, who is on an official visit to Bayelsa State, arrived the peace park, venue of the civic reception held for him by his host, Governor Timpre Sylva, in company of the Minister of Solid Minerals, Mrs. Daezani Madueke and Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State.
However, both senators and members of House of Representatives representing the state in the National Assembly were absent. An Abuja source confided that the legislators did not accompany the president because they said they were not invited by the state government. But a top government official denied this saying they were sent letters of invitation.
Yar’Adua, who expressed his administration’s preparedness to transform the Niger Delta, urged those he described as merchants of violence to change their ways.
But to those who genuinely took up arms to draw attention to the sad situation to the region, he said, “we have heard you and we are ready to work with you to move the Niger Delta forward in the interest of its long-suffering people.
“But to those hiding under the cover of legitimate protest to feather private nests, those merchants of violence, I say to you: change your ways, the people of Niger Delta have seen through your antics and will soon expose you”.
He urged all the people to give the administration a chance to earn their trust.
The president expressed hope that soon, “the region will be transformed into a development hub not only for Nigeria but also for the West African sub-region, in a way that will surpass the recent post-conflict transformation of Angola. But this cannot happen without peace and partnership.
“This is why we are strongly committed to prompt payment of all statutory allocations due to the region and to continued support to interventionist agencies like the NDDC. This is also why we created the Ministry of Niger Delta to coordinate our holistic approach to he transformation of this region.”
He, however, noted that all these would come to naught without peace, without trust, and cooperation of stakeholders.
“Let me therefore use this opportunity to state categorically that our amnesty offer to militants is not a ruse. It is for real “he said, and stressed that the administration would continue to put in place every measure that would bring about peace.
He said the complaints of the people of the region have been noted and expressed his determination to work with them to uplift the state and the region.
Speaking on power, he said it would impact on the lives of Bayelsans.
According to him, regular supply of electricity would improve the productive capacities of Bayelsans and deepen opportunities for growth and prosperity.
The administration, according to him, believes power represents a principal pathway out of poverty for Nigerians.
“Clearly, we need to fix electricity as quick as possible”.
“This is why electricity is accorded a priority position under critical infrastructure in our 7-Point Agenda. And this is why we are not wavering in our commitment to generating and distributing 6,000 MW by the end of this year, and 10,000 MW by 2011. There are enormous challenges ahead but the targets will be met”.