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”.
Stop Killings Of Christians, Northern CAN Tells Buhari
The recurring attacks, kidnappings and killings of Christians especially in the North-East by the Jihadist groups have been described as a ploy to set the northern region on fire if the Federal Government fails to curb the trend.
The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern States and the FCT, Rev. Yakubu Pam expressed the opinion on the heels of the killing of CAN Chairman, Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi.
Pam, worried by the situation noted that the Federal Government should rise and stem the tide of unwarranted killings of Christians so that wrong signals are not sent to Christian faithful in other geo-political zones of the nation as it seems the entire Christian community in the North is under siege.
According to him, “Interreligious leaders in the North have worked so hard to bring the two main religions, Christianity and Islam adherents to work closely with one another for the peace of the Northern states in recent years.
“The gains made are now being eroded with the recent development of upsurge of Jihadists on the loose in North-East states of Nigeria.
“President Buhari administration should double up its efforts in the management of the current situation in the North to avoid outbreak of religious crisis in the region which would not be of any benefit to anyone.”
The Northern CAN leader added that “the recent video that emerged from ISIS affiliated terror group and the horrific footage released by ISIS News Agency showing a child of about eight years old carrying out the execution of a Christian in an unidentified outdoor area of Borno State is frightening.
“The under-age Jihadist was seen in the video warning Christians to be ready to witness more killings and as such it has sent shock waves into the heart of Christian leaders and faithful in the North that their lives are not safe unless the Federal Government quickly arrests this ugly development before people begin to resort to self help.”
He called on the Christians in the North to be vigilant and watchful as directed by the Lord Jesus Christ over the current happenings around their environment and report same quickly to security agencies located within their homes and environment for prompt security action to save lives of innocent Christians doing their legitimate business in the region.
In the same vein, the Northern Governors Forum has condemned the gruesome murder of Rev Lawan Andimi, who was the local council chapter chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and also a pastor with the Church of the Brethren (EYN) at the District Church Council of Michika, Adamawa State by Boko Haram terrorist group.
In a statement, Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, yesterday, described the act as yet another sad tale of inhuman activities of the terrorist group which is bent on unleashing sorrow in the hearts of Nigerians.
While commiserating with the family of the late clergyman, the church and people of Adamawa State, Lalong urged them not to allow the ugly incident affect their faith in God and love for humanity as the death of the late clergyman cannot be a catalyst for hatred among Nigerians who are disgusted by the cruelty of the terrorist organisation.
He said the Northern Governors Forum remains united in their support for security agencies to continue to rise up to not only terrorist groups, but all forms of criminality that seek to divide the country along ethnic, religious or political lines.
Lalong emphasized that the Northern Governors Forum stands shoulder to shoulder with President Muhammadu Buhari as he rallies the world towards defeating terror groups and their sponsors as well as the purveyors of their bizarre ideology which propagates sorrow, hatred and pain on innocent persons in the name of religion and others claims.
Similarly, the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has expressed shock over the killing of the Christian Association of Nigeria chairman in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Pastor Lawan Andimi, by Boko Haram.
The council described the murder as barbaric and provocative, adding that it was a ploy by the insurgents to incite Christians against Muslims in the country.
Andimi was abducted by Boko Haram on January 3, and subsequently killed last Monday despite being offered a N50million ransom.
The NSCIA, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, by its Head of Media and Communication, Aselemi Ibrahim, condoled with CAN and the family of the deceased, and also called on the Federal Government and the security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities of protection of lives and property.
It cautioned CAN leadership to think through its public statements “so as not to play into the antics of the enemy”.
The Muslim body stated, “The council hereby expresses her heartfelt condolences to the immediate family of Pastor Lawan Andimi in particular and the leadership and members of the Christian Association of Nigeria in general.
“We equally want to seize this opportunity to appeal to the leadership of CAN in Nigeria to be wary of the comments and statements it puts out in the public domain, so as not to play into the antics of the enemy.
“We should think through and be sure that our comments are in the interest of national peace, security and cohesion.”
The NSCIA expressed its commitment to a safe and united Nigeria “where everyone is protected and free to practice his/her religion without encumbrances”.
Only Restructuring’ll Save Nigeria From Annihilation, Stakeholders Insist
Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Prof. David Aworawo of UNILAG; Mr. Soji Awogbade, of the Voice of Reason, a pro-Yoruba organisation; and Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin; have told Nigerian that restructuring of the country is the only way forward.
Ezeife said Nigeria is not an accident of British colonialism but a creation of God using British colonialism.
He said Nigeria has not attained the position of global leadership because of its current structure.
Odumakin disagreed on the notion that Nigeria is a creation of God.
He said Nigeria was created by the British.
He said the colonialists did not have the concept of nationhood when they amalgamated the protectorates of northern and southern Nigeria in 1914.
These were the positions they adopted, yesterday, at a conference on restructuring organised by the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
According to Ezeife, Nigeria has failed to attain the role of a global superpower because of her unitary structure.
He said: “God designed for Nigeria, unmatched greatness, to enable her to achieve His purpose for creating her. That purpose is Nigeria’s manifest destiny.
“To restructure Nigeria, and make her able to achieve her manifest destiny is the task every Nigerian should pray for and help to bring about. This task must be performed, and urgently too.
“Surely, Nigeria was not an accident of British imperialism. No, God created Nigeria using British imperialism’s mere tools. And God created Nigeria to be a rallying point and big brother for Africa and, indeed, for all the blacks on earth.”
He also blamed the National Assembly for contributing to the current problems the country is passing through, adding that the National Assembly must also be restructured for Nigeria to work.
“Recently, the National Assembly dealt with the issue of devolution of power, which is a key element in the restructuring of Nigeria. Devolution of power deals with sharing of power between the centre or Federal Government and the federating units.
“It is what makes a federation a federation. As it were, by their rejection of devolution of powers, the National Assembly is saying no to the appellation Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The National Assembly is part of the problem and needs to be restructured to work in the overall interest of the country. It is clearly unrealistic to leave the issue of restructuring Nigeria to the National Assembly as it is composed,” he added.
Odumakin, who is the publicity secretary of pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, said the British never envisioned Nigeria to be a nation.
“There is nothing like Nigerian nation. The British did not have nationhood in mind; they merely amalgamated the southern and northern protectorate. The Southern protectorate was making £500,000 surplus and the Northern protectorate was making £500,000 deficit. Lord Lugard needed the money from the south to run Nigeria. That has continued to date.”
He noted that the report of the 2014 National Conference would have addressed all the problems confronting Nigeria today if it was implemented.
“The 2014 National Conference had a unanimous agreement on all subjects before it except derivation. The only way Nigeria can achieve peace is to restructure along federal lines where every region will control its resources. The command and control structure we have now will not allow us to developed.”
He added that every part of the country has enough resources to develop, and urged leaders in the North opposed to restructuring to put their resources into productive use.
“In Economics, the first of the factors of production is land. Niger State has more land than the whole southeast states put together, they should put their land to productive use.
“You also talk of labour, what happened to the population? They should be put to work. The problem we have today is that people are hanging about, playing Baba Ijebu, they don’t want to do anything, but they want quick money,” he added.
NDDC: No Contracts’ Verification, No Payment, Nunieh Insists
The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Joi Nunieh, has said the commission would deny payments to contractors and consultants who fail to present their jobs for verification.
Nunieh, yesterday, at the Rivers State Office of NDDC in Port Harcourt, said, “Anyone not on the NDDC list is not our contractor and such should be handed over to security agencies for prosecution. Similarly, anyone that presents fake Interim Payment Certificate (IPC) will be arrested.
“Contractors always say they are not paid; now we have asked them to come with all their documents and they are finding it difficult. Some contractors are scared of the verification exercise.
“Any contractor who fails to come for verification will be held liable. We are hoping that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will come for the exercise as well. We only have limited time and up till now, only five NGOs have turned up.
“If you don’t have documents, you are not a contractor; most of the NGOs are not registered and are running to register now. This is an embarrassment to the commission.”
Nunieh expressed satisfaction with the on-going verification exercise billed to close at the end of January, stating that the committee planned to verify up to 250 contracts every day.
“Those who use agents to run contracts only remind me of our people abroad who would send moneys to loved ones to develop projects, only for them to discover when they return that there is nothing on ground to show for all the moneys sent.
“Some contractors are coming with fake documents and of course, they are not our contractors. Some contractors are also afraid to come for the verification.”
Head of the Verification Committee for Rivers and Director, Agriculture and Fisheries, George Ero, described turnout of contractors for the exercise as very poor with 82 persons attended to so far out of a total 2, 500 recorded in the list of contractors for the state.
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