By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,

We unreservedly commend the FG for the release of Henry Okah from detention and the withdrawal of all treason and felony charges against him. We also acknowledge the FG's concern for the deteriorating health of Okah and the planned assistance in seeking foreign medical attention for him.

His timely release is an indication of the FG's interest in restoring lasting peace to the Niger Delta Region. If we may recall, the arrest of Okah had only served to escalate the spates of violence in the region. In the wake of the amnesty announcement, while certain groups had hitherto hinged their willingness to accept the offer on the release of Okah from detention, MEND, NDVF and other militancy groups within the region had on the other hand demonstrated maturity on issues affecting the region by bringing the injustice and plight of its people to the front burner in both local and foreign Community.

With Okah's release, and what it portends for the region, we in Rivers State AC avow to advocate for two major actions on the side of FG and the side of MEND respectively.

For the FG, we expect that the report of the Niger Delta Technical Committee be reviewed for its immediate implementation in order to usher in lasting peace in the region and prosperity for the Nigerian State. Major rehabilitation plans should be affected to stem the imbalance in provision of infrastructure and basic needs like tap water, electricity, roads, health and education facilities and reclamation of land and neglect suffered by the areas most affected by the years of hostility in the region. In addition to this, a massive campaign to encourage the inhabitants of displaced communities to return home must be embarked upon. Legislation should be put in place that would serve to protect the inhabitants from the injustices, deprivations and obnoxious laws depriving them from enjoying the fruits of the God given resource in their region. The FG should be on the offensive in curbing all activities of bunkering in the region.

MEND and other Agitation groups within the region, will similarly be expected to do their bit to ensure that peace is sustained. This must involve an immediate cessation of attacks on oil facilities within and outside the region and halting of all acts or actions that can threaten the peace of the region. Attack on these facilities not only disrupt the economic process necessary for empowering the region, but also endangers the environmental sustainability of the region.

We pray that condemnable acts like the recent attack on the NNPC owned facility in Lagos should cease and be discouraged for the growth and prosperity of our country to thrive. The peace in the region is not negotiable; it is necessary and essential and in our opinion, the panacea for growth and development in the region.

We must also commend and congratulate the FG for its foresight in appointing Mr. Timi Alaibe, erstwhile MD of NDDC as Honorary Adviser to the President. This appointment is not only a well thought out one but will go a long way to restore the confidence of our youths as this son of the region will bring to this new office his expertise, administrative acumen and experience. Finally, we commend the Amnesty International and similar international organs for condemning the genocide occasioned by the JTF against some communities within the region.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
Rivers State Action Congress, Publicity Secretary