IJAW LEADERS WARN JONATHAN OVER STATE OF AFFAIRS IN NIGER DELTA
As the electioneering for the 2011 elections hots up, concerned Ijaw leaders, in the Niger Delta have written President Goodluck Jonathan warning him to be wary of persons he has endorsed for 2011 in order not to jeopardize his presidential ambition.
The Ijaw leaders also complained of perceived surreptitious moves to shut the ethnic nationality from direct governance in the Niger Delta states. They expressed concern over what they termed gory and genocidal atrocities unleashed on the local and defenceless citizens of Ayakoromo community, in Burutu Local Government, Delta State by the Joint Military Task Force, where over 150 persons were killed.
Of worry to the Ijaw people is the political developments in Bayelsa, the president's home state, Delta and Rivers, where they claimed there are grand moves to deny the Ijaw the opportunity to be at the helms of affairs.
Speaking under the auspices of Ijaw National Vanguard, the group are of the view that President Jonathan is indirectly supporting a grand plan to thwart the efforts of the Ijaw in the next elections, as exemplified in the decision to prevail on Chief Godsday Orubebe, minister of Niger Delta, to step out of the governorship race in Delta ,while prompting Timi Alaibe, special adviser on Niger Delta, to join the Bayelsa governorship race.
In the letter dated December 22 and signed by Romeo Ebikewenemor and Ebizimor Nato Amada, for Bayelsa state; Cletus .O. Arerebo and Hendrick Opukeme, for Delta State; Innocent Iboroma and Pascal Ajumogabis Warlkoke, for River State and Lucky Aku and Benjamin Oweifa, for Edo State, the group said the attitude of President Jonathan to the re-election bid of Governor Silva was worrisome.
They therefore, pleaded with Jonathan to play the role of a father to all by ensuring that just as he endorsed Governor Chibuike Amaechi in Rivers, he should do same openly in Bayelsa by anointing Silva as the PDP candidate for the State.
The letter read in part: 'The contention and agitation of the Ijaws of Delta State in the build-up to 2011 political dispensation has been that since Delta South is constituted of three ethnic nationalities, it would not proper for only one of the contenting ethnic nationalities to utilise the eight years. It should be proper for the Ijaw to produce or take leadership of the state for a single tenure of four years or more as the case may be.
'In Bayelsa State, Mr. President, in the build-up to the 2011 general elections, with particular reference to His Excellency, Governor Timipre Sylva's second term bid, your actions and body language do not seem to suggest public endorsement and support, which you have exhibited in Delta and Rivers states. This is seriously perceived as a cause for concern for the generality of the Ijaw nation.
'It has been confirmed that the recent entry of Mr. Ndutimi Timi Alaibe into the governorship race of 2011, in Bayelsa State, has your approval and consent to unseat His Excellency, Governor. Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State.
'That the Federal Government Amnesty programme has gone this far is as a result of the appointment of Mr. Timi Alaibe as the presidential adviser on Niger Delta/chief coordinator of the amnesty programme. We believe that for the singular sake of the amnesty programme, Timi Alaibe be left out of the political issues of Bayelsa State.
'Considering the importance attached to the amnesty programme by the investors in the oil and gas sector, vis-Ã -vis the large number of human resources involved therein, a competent hand such as Timi Alaibe is needed not only to sustain the programme but also to give proper direction, planning and programming. His attention should not be diverted at this point in time.'
The Ijaw group said attempt by Alaibe to contest the 2011 gubernatorial election maybe responsible for the renewed violence in the Niger Delta.
'Mr. President, we urge you to play a fatherly role to the entire governors of the Niger Delta states, particularly, the PDP governors, including Governor Timipre Sylva's second term bid. To do otherwise is to create bad blood and distrust, which has far-reaching consequences with national and regional implications.
'In the light of the above circumstance, and to prove the governors political adversaries and pessimists wrong; we list here under strategic projects to justify the Governor's second term bid: High court complex; state secretariat complex; Governor House staff duplexes (8 numbers); construction of Nembe Bridge; Yenegoa Oporoma Ukubie - Kolokuma Road and Bridges Section 1 Bayelsa Stimulus Scheme (Mass Transit), among others.
'Mr. President, the Ijaw nation and the Nigerian people are watching with renewed interest the legacies you will leave for the country. As a major oil and gas producing state, Bayelsa is central to the economic well being of Nigeria and the international community. We wonder if your drafting of Mr. Timi Alaibe into the governorship of 2011 would not open a blood gate of violence in Bayelsa State. The current relative peace in Bayelsa State needs to be sustained.'