By Emma Amaize
WARRIâ€”GOVERNOR Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State has denied the allegation that the threat by the South-South governors to pull out of the amnesty programme for militants by the federal government some weeks ago was a pointer that they (governors) knew more than they claim about militancy in the Niger-Delta, and were, in fact, sponsoring militant activities.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Vanguard in Warri, Delta state, Governor Uduaghan asserted that â€œmost Nigerians know these youths; it is not only the governors that know them. If you are really interested in the affairs of the Niger-Delta, you will find a way of reaching them and of knowing them.
â€œWhy do you want to know them, you want to know them in order to understand their feelings, to know why they are carrying guns and be able to deal with the issues.
â€œYes, we know them and we know their feelings, we know where they stand and we are also part of the people making efforts to make them understand that the violent phase of the struggle is over, that is now the phase of engagement.â€
Commenting on the return of displaced persons from Gbaramatu kingdom to their homes after the military operation by the Joint Task Force on the Niger-Delta, Uduanghan said, â€œin terms of going back home, I am on top of it, I think so far so good, I am happy the people are going back home, but unfortunately, many of them are going back to temporary makeshift places.
â€œHowever, in terms of more permanent things, we are going to build model cities in such places that have been destroyed, even the ones that were not destroyed.
â€œThe programme really is not just for Ijaw villages alone, both the Itsekiri villages will be part of the new towns to be builtâ€.
On his comments a few months ago that only about two or three houses were destroyed by soldiers when he visited Oporoza community, he asserted that â€œat the time I visited, it was just Camp 5 and Oporoza alone and whatever comments I made was based on what I saw, I was not making generalized comments on the whole Gbaramatu clan and I am not somebody who makes comments based on hearsay.
â€œI like to make my comments based on what I have seen. So, people read all sorts of meanings into what I said, but that is the price one has to pay for leadership. We have done assessment, we have seen what is there and we are moving on from thereâ€.
Regarding the building of the new towns, as most of the returnees have no homes to sleep at the moment, Uduanghan said â€œwe have to do the preliminary work. In fact, on Friday, I received the preliminary drawings for some of the communities, so we are still on the paper work stage of the project and as soon as we finish that stage, we look for funds and start the buildingsâ€.