By NBF News

Former leaders of various militant groups in the Niger Delta have taken a common stand on 2011 Presidential election, saying Nigeria, especially the oil producing region, will boil again if President Goodluck Jonathan was not given the chance to continue in office.

The ex-militant leaders who converged in Calabar, Cross River State to fine-tune strategies on how to check violence during the general elections, said for the fragile peace in the country to stand the test of time, Nigerians must allow Jonathan to complete the eight-year tenure of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.

The spokesman of the ex-militants, Mr. Arnold Bassey, who spoke with Daily Sun shortly after the meeting, said: 'If Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is not allowed to continue beyond 2011, there will be serious conflict in the country.'

He maintained that Jonathan was not desperate to be President in 2011, insisting that for equity and justice, there was the need for him to continue in office, as the South-South have been short-changed over the years, in terms of power sharing.

Appraising the political history of the country, Bassey alleged that the South-South has been marginalized since 1960, saying 'to give Jonathan a chance is like giving peace a chance.'

On the heels of the meeting, which was attended by 12 former militant leaders from different camps, the spokesman of the group recalled that prior to the demise of the former President, voices in the North had started campaigning for Alhaji Yar'Adua to stay in office for eight years, warning that 'it will not augur well for us as a nation, if our brothers in the North continue to plan how to truncate Jonathan's administration.'

Commenting on the presidential amnesty granted former Niger Delta militants, he said: 'What we need in this country is permanent peace, and we (ex-militants) are ready to promote peace, if the majority ethnic nationalities stop to oppress the minorities.' Commenting on the resolutions at the end of the meeting, he said the ex-militants were ready to work with government to ensure that the 2011 polls would be peaceful, free and fair, urging government to shun electoral frauds and allow the people to chose their leaders.

Revealing their strategies on how to ensure that the forthcoming elections would be violent-free, he said: 'We have decided to use Martin Luther's philosophy of non-violence to talk to all former militants to embrace peace and cooperate with Jonathan, since the President has shown that he is ready to make life meaningful for Nigerians.

'If within 100 days in office as President, he has carried out reforms in various sectors of the country, especially the power sector, it means if he is given the chance to continue he will do more.' He called on Nigerians to jettison ethnic sentiments and support President Jonathan, adding that the former militant leaders were working with relevant authorities to introduce 'conflict resolution' as a course in primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

Bassey said the group would adopt constitutional means to ensure that political officers who have failed to impact on the lives of the people are not re-elected.