The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has invited Itsekiri and Ijaw leaders in Delta State to a meeting in Abuja todayover the contentious ownership of the $16 billion Export Processing Zone, EPZ, project site.
President Goodluck Jonathan abruptly cancelled his visit to Delta State to perform the ground breaking ceremony of the project, renamed Delta Gas City by the Federal Government, on Friday, following a threat by the Ijaw of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area to unleash violence if he came without first resolving their grievances.
It was the second time Jonathan cancelled the ground breaking ceremony, having done so in June, based on the same reasons advanced by the Ijaw. Secretary of the Leaders of Thought, Mr. Edward Ekpoko, confirmed, that he was aware to tomorrow’s meeting.
An Ijaw leader, who confirmed that he was already in Abuja for the meeting, said, “The meeting is summoned by the Group Managing Director, GMD, of NNPC. They are saying they did not know that Ijaw actually own part of the land acquired by the Delta State government for the project and they did not even know that there is crisis of this dimension over the project site until we protested, last Wednesday.”
The Federal Government, in a statement, last Thursday, formally announcing the postponement of the ground breaking ceremony of the Gas Revolution Industrial Park, GRIP, said the decision was taken by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, after consultations with Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State.
Uduaghan, who had stated 24 hours earlier that nobody could stop Jonathan from coming to Delta to perform the ground breaking ceremony, was taken aback at the postponement contrary to the claim that the decision was taken after consultations with him.
In fact, the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, ILT, an influential Itsekiri group, led by Pa J.O.S Ayomike, never knew the President had cancelled the trip to the state until the day of the ceremony.
The failure of Jonathan to perform the ground breaking ceremony of the project had sparked controversy with many asking why the President would suspend a ceremony because of a threat by his kinsmen.
“President Jonathan’s refusal to perform the ground breaking ceremony of the project as fixed for Friday was a show of cowardice unexpected of his office which should stand for the rule of law. He has shown that he has joined the Ijaw militants in building fences among the ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta and Nigeria”, the ILT said.
An Ijaw leader told our source, “We are not against the EPZ project, what we are saying is that the project is on Ijaw land as well as it is on Itsekiri land. So it should not be named after Ogidigben, an Itsekiri community alone.”
The Ajuwaoyiboyami of Warri Kingdom, Chief Ayiri Emami, alias Akulagba, lambasted Jonathan for abandoning the ground breaking ceremony because of threat by some Ijaw ex-militants.
He said, “The truth must be told that Itsekiri people can no longer fold our arms and watch Government Ekpemupolo in collaboration with some of his Ijaw brothers and a few Itsekiri dissidents continue to take what God has given to us.”
Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity
Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.
It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.
Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.
Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments
President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.
The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.
According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.
He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.
Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.
The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.
He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.
On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.
He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.
“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.
On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.
On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.
According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.
The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”
Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.
The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.
Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.
He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.
He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.
“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.
“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.
“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”
He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.
This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.
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