By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa â€” President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, yesterday, warned criminals in the Niger Delta whom he called â€œmerchants of violenceâ€ to give up or face being exposed by the people.
He however said the government was ready to work with the genuine militants who took up arms to draw attention to the sad situation in the region
Speaking amidst tight security in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, the President also assured the rampaging militants in the region that his proclamation of amnesty was not a ruse but his administrationâ€™s avowed commitment to transforming the region into the economic hub of the African continent.
He pleaded with the militants to give peace a chance, saying the federal government has heard the agitation of the region for justice.
His words: â€œthe Niger Delta is very high on the agenda of this administration, this is why we are strongly committed to prompt payment of all statutory allocations due to the region and the continued support to interventionist agencies like the NDDC. This is also why we created the Ministry of Niger Delta to coordinate our holistic approach to the transformation of this region.
â€œBut all these will come to naught without peace, without trust, without cooperation of all stakeholders and without security of lives and property for the people and foreign investors. Let me therefore use this opportunity to state categorically that our amnesty offer to militants is not a ruse. It is for real.
â€œTo those who genuinely took up arms to draw attention to the sad situation in this region, I say to you: we have heard you and we are ready to work with you to move the Niger Delta forward in the interest of its long-suffering people. But to those hiding under the cover of legitimate protest to feather private nests, those merchants of violence, I say to you: change your ways, the people of Niger Delta have seen through your antics and will soon expose you.â€
President Yarâ€™Adua commended the people of the region for their show of endurance and peace and urged them to further give his administration their trust, â€œgive us your trust because the region will be transformed into a development pattern that will surpass the post-conflict Angola. It will be transformed from Poverty to prosperity. These will soon come. But this cannot happen without peace and partnership.â€
The President said the issue of power generation, as being done by the Bayelsa State government with the commissioning of a new 20 megawatts gas turbine, is a sector his administration has invested a lot in through the 2009 budget.
â€œIt is a priority and we are not wavering in the generation of 6,000 mega watts by December this year and the realisation of 10,000 mega watts by 2010.â€
He noted that in the quest to improve the power generation capability of the nation, his administration has encountered different levels of challenges but that the target of his administration will not fail.
â€œElectricity projects like this one represent the face of the New Niger Delta, a rejuvenated region where vital physical infrastructure will unleash the creative energies of an industrious people, and where governments, civil society, businesses and communities will actively and genuinely collaborate for a sustained transition from poverty to prosperity. I know this day will come soon, secured in the belief that we will all do our part,â€ he said.
In his address of welcome, the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva said when his administration assumed power, it met a dilapidated and non-existent infrastructure and a people agitated by lack of development, growing insecurity, power and pain but that with determination his administration was able to complete abandoned projects not new ones.
He said his development plan in the state is tailored along a four point pattern with the building of a vibrant private sector, the reduction of poverty, conflict management and peace and health care and education as the focal points.
He said though the monetary value of all the projects is well over N50billion,it is not all that money was put in by his administration.
â€œWe know as a matter of fact that no state government has commissioned so large a number of projects at once. We decided on this step in order to ensure that the state money is not filtered away. It is clear to me that if we had not completed these projects, no other administration would have done it due to complications and variations that may have set in.â€
The President was accompanied on his visit to Bayelsa by the wife of the Vice President, Patience Jonathan, the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta, Timi AlaibeÂ and the Minister Solid Minerals, Mrs. Deziani Allison-Madueke.
Also was present on the occasion was the former governor of the state, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, among others.