By eze chukwuemeka

Considering what insecurity has done to us, the damage it has caused our economy and the price we have been paying in human terms, I feel highly elated with the steps taken by both the Federal and Rivers State Government to address the sad and avoidable insecurity situation. No development can be achieved in either a chaotic or warlike situation. I am particularly happy with the recent statement credited to Rt.. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the Executive Governor of Rivers State that he is ready to assist and encourage anyone desirous of denouncing arms and accepting amnesty. Some had expressed fear that the hard stance of the Governor was an obstacle to their disarmament and their acceptance of the FG's amnesty package. With this recent stand of the Governor, no-one in the state has any reason to doubt his position and continue to carry arms in the name of militancy or agitation for the plight of our State or region. Even though like many I am a firm believer in a holistic approach to the issue of the Niger Delta not just a half baked amnesty package, I subscribe to the school of thought that says we make the best with what we have, while aggressively working for more.

The Governor and I have been well known to disagree on the subject of militancy vs criminality on several occasions including how we approach it but I cannot take away the fact that the Governor took the initiative of granting amnesty to the militants and even set up a camp to rehabilitate and accept arms from them long before now. That is what brought about the Chief A.K. Horsfall Rehabilitation. In fact I may not be contradicted if I stated here that the Federal Government may have borrowed the idea of what it is currently doing on the issue of amnesty, rehabilitation and militants return of arms from Gov. Chibuike Amaechi. If I am right though, they like him did not do too good a job of their version. While amnesty is a critical and important step, it should neither be the first nor the last. In Rivers state they understand this but even they could have done more. They would be the first to admit it. That is why as much as I am satisfied with Amaechi's recent position, I am not surprised. The system produced these people that carry guns. It even benefitted from them. Countless people on the other side of the PDP fence suffered intimidation from the hands of these same people, yet it is we that are calling for reason. Why? It is the right thing to do. And so we must. The same applies to waterfront demolition. Even though I support the principle of it, it must be done with reason and with the people on board.

In conclusion, I wish to encourage others to capitalise on this window opened by the President and his Governors to denounce the carrying of guns and give peace a chance so that investors can come in and develop. I congratulate Soboma George who recently demonstrated his intent. The time is changing. And so must you. We prefer intellectual militancy. You have made your point but any further unrest in the region because of militancy may cost us the goodwill we are currently enjoying. My plea becomes imperative as nobody can predict what will happen when this period of amnesty comes to an end. Finally, I must commend Governor Amaechi once again for taking this bold step of reassuring those ready to give up their guns in his readiness to work with them to restore peace to our State. My thanks also goes to Timi Alaibe, the Honorary Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Matters who working with me and the Governor made this new position audible.

Rivers State and the entire Niger Delta is ours to build. We will collectively achieve our desired destiny by the grace of the Almighty God.

Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill,
Rivers State AC and FOOPP Leader