Post Amnesty: Trouble Persists in Niger Delta as Jonathan stops S/South leaders’ meeting

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There are fresh indications that some agitating youths in the Nigeria oil-rich Niger-Delta region who felt the Yar'Adua led administration is not sincere with his promises were bent on destroying the relative peace in the area, just as the Federal Government vowed to do everything within its powers to deal with those people in order to ensure peace in the region. gathered that the blowing up of pipelines belonging to Chevron and Shell at Abonema, Rivers State, last Saturday (Dec. 19) by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is a clear fact that all is not well in that axis of the nation. The attack came about 49 days after the militant group's indefinite ceasefire. But MEND had hinged its action on the uncertainty created by the absence of ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua.

Consequently the Minister of Defence, Major General Godwin Abbe (rtd.) has been raising alarm over this bizarre development. During the inauguration of the multimillion naira estate built by the defence headquarters under the leadership of Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike for its staff, the Minister stated that the armed forces would do what had to be done to keep the peace in that region and solicited the support of the National Assembly. General Abbe reacted that the armed forces had the capacity to build and make their officers comfortable, stressing that shelter ranked in the first order of human needs without which life would be miserable.

According to him: “It is our obligation in the military to take the welfare of our personnel very seriously; consequently, programmes are designed to cater for the good fortune, happiness, well-being and prosperity of personnel and whenever this is not adequately addressed, it usually affects the morale, which could lead to decline in productivity.”

In his remarks, the CDS noted that the gesture was to motivate and engender esprit de corps since the armed forces recognized human capital as the most essential ingredient of organizational growth and sustenance. Air Chief Marshal Dike said that they would continue to make efforts to enhance the quality of life of DHQ personnel through the provision of welfare amenities that would enable them to focus on the difficult tasks they perform in the interest of national security and progress.

According to him: “While striving within the limits of avoidable resources to fulfil our end of the social contract between the leaders and the led, it is our expectation that these gestures will be an impetus for the beneficiaries to be more alive to their responsibilities, exhibit loyalty and conduct themselves in a manner befitting of disciplined service personnel.” The CDS expressed the armed forces' appreciation to President Yar'Adua for his commitment towards ensuring the welfare of the officers and men of the armed forces.

However, Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, on Tuesday, stopped the proposed meeting of Niger Delta leaders which was aimed at reviewing the state of the nation, the situation in the Niger Delta and the amnesty programme of the Federal Government. A meeting of the leaders had taken place on Friday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where the leaders were said to have dissected the state of the nation and the alleged shabby treatment of Vice-President Jonathan by the northern establishment. A source confided in that the meeting discussed the frustrations of the Niger Delta people, as a result of the refusal of President Yar'Adua to hand over to Vice-President Jonathan, when he was proceeding on the medical trip to Saudi Arabia. The Niger Delta leaders were said to have seen the decision to make the vice-president a lame duck in the Presidency as an affront to the zone and an indication that the area was unwanted in the polity.

It was further that the vice-president got wind of the meeting and a follow up which was scheduled for Asaba on Tuesday, and communicated those involved to put it off so as not to send wrong signals to the nation especially in this precarious state of the President and the nation at large. learnt that the vice-president has stopped communicating with many of the leaders in the south in recent times because of the fear of being misrepresented, had to break his silence and asked them to stop such meetings. Available facts have it that that the Friday (Dec. 18) meeting in Uyo discussed frankly the state of Niger Delta and, particularly, the shabby treatment of the vice-president, who is not allowed to act as president, even when his boss is lying critically ill in King Faisal Hospital far way in Saudi Arabia.

Apart from that, the leaders were angry that the amnesty programme appeared to be heading for the rocks, following the stoppage of funding as a result of the non- signing of the supplementary budget meant to affect some of the developmental plans of the post-Amnesty of the of the restive Niger-Delta region thus leaving the ex-militants in a quandary. The supplementary budget was passed by the National Assembly on November 24, a day after the president jetted out of the country to Saudi Arabia for the survival of his life. As a result of the failure of the president to sign the budget, the copies have been gathering dust on his table since it was sent to the presidency by the Acting Clerk of the National Assembly, Prince Yemi Ogunyomi. Sources said that the Niger Delta leaders, in expressing their disgust for the state of the nation were also planning a parley with militants, where appropriate decision about the future of the zone would have been taken.

“The vice-president is concerned about the renewed hostilities in the Niger Delta and he promptly intervened. He has also told those behind the Uyo meeting and the second leg fixed for Asaba to call it off and await further statements by the administration. He has also assured them that the government would ensure funding does not stop completely for the amnesty programme,” a source in the administration said.

All of these however depict that this current administration has failed in all its promises, particularly those pledges contained in the Yar'Adua's over publicized 7-point agenda. This can be traced to the failure in the education sector, with attendant incessant strike actions due to non implementations of agreements between ASUU and all other unions in the education sector. Other failures are in the energy sector especially the downstream as well as electricity generation and distribution, despite the fact that this same government promised to deliver 6,000 mega watts of electricity by year end. Nigerians are now enmeshed into varying untold hardship in the country as a result of the scarcity of petroleum products which is no longer sufficient for supply. It would be most disastrous for Nigeria economy and also its image if the Niger-Delta youths (Militants) engage themselves again in hostilities; this time around it would be brutal and messier as the signs are becoming obvious by the day. Whether Goodluck Jonathan would be empowered as the substantive President to rekindle the country from its present precarious situation, no one can tell, as one can see that the present greedy President is never ready to do such thing.

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