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Niger Delta: FG, Govs, militant agree

By Daniel Idonor,Abuja
The Federal Government yesterday launched a Marshall Plan for the development of the Niger Delta. The initiative was disclosed by Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole after a  tripatite meeting involving Governors of the Niger Delta, the Federal Gobvernment and the militant leaders.  in Abuja.Governor Oshiomole   spoke to State House Correspondents on behalf of other governors.

He said never in history of Nigeria has any leader had the kind of  vision President Yar’Adua has for the region. In fact, he said if former leaders had shown half of the commitment President Yar’Adua has shown the Niger-Delta the situation would not have escalated       before the Amnesty.

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Also speaking on behalf of the former militants’ leaders, Chief Tompolo who refused to elaborate declared that “the meeting was OK”

The Governors of the affected State led the key former militants’ leaders from their respective State to the talks which began at about 5:00 pm yesterday at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

President Yar Adua said during the meeting    that for the benefits of post amnesty to manifest, great patience, perseverance and hard work will be required but was hopeful if ‘we treat the post-amnesty process right, Nigeria will become a global example of how to achieve peace and development under the most difficult circumstances, as well as a reference point for the international community to emulate. ’, He added that  the Administration was already working hard to ensure an unqualified success of the process.

SGF, Mallam Yayale Ahmed (l) and General Boyloaf exchanging greetings at the meeting between the Federal Government and the leadership of repentant militants at the State  House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida.
SGF, Mallam Yayale Ahmed (l) and General Boyloaf exchanging greetings at the meeting between the Federal Government and the leadership of repentant militants at the State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida.

He said the ‘great achievement of the laying down of arms and renunciation of militancy must be supported to ensure peace, security and development in the Niger Delta region’, He said  this will require ‘great patience, perseverance and hard work from all of us’.

He appealed to all concerned in the process to show ‘sincerity of purpose and patience, because development takes time and huge resources’ and not to lose sight of the goal.

President Yar’Adua said the willingness of the former militant leaders to attend the meeting showed that Nigerians are good people, and thanked them for responding to his invitation

Responding on behalf of the Governors, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State said they were convinced that the post-amnesty period would be very exciting for all Niger Delta people, and pledged their full and total support for the process. Also responding, one of the former militant leaders, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, said they had high hopes for the future, and pledged to support and cooperate with the Administration, for the development of the Niger Delta.

The 16 militants’ leaders were led by High Chief Government Ekpemepolo (aka) Tompolo, (Delta), Chief Ateke Tom (River) and Mr Ebikabowei Ben (aka) Boyloaf (Bayelsa), while in their company were three Human Right Activist namely Anne Kio Briggs, Kingsley Kuku and T.K Ogriba

Other key leaders also at the presidential meeting are Franklin Duduku (Cross River), Bonny Gawei (Delta), Africa Ukparafa (Bayelsa), Farah Dagogo (Rivers), Soboma George (Rivers), Erefimudei Olotu (Bayelsa), Ezekiel Akpabewei (Delta), Keneth Dan Opsingi (Rivers), Bibopre Ajube (Ondo), Henry Egbema (Edo), Omo Tonweerigha (Edo), Solomon Indigbana (Rivers) and Selky Kile Torugwedi (Bayelsa).

Member Amnesty Committee, Mr. Kingsley Kuku Khinmi; Mr. Government Tompolo; Mr. Ateke Tom, General Boyloaf and others during the meeting . Photo by Abayomi Adeshida.
Member Amnesty Committee, Mr. Kingsley Kuku Khinmi; Mr. Government Tompolo; Mr. Ateke Tom, General Boyloaf and others during the meeting . Photo by Abayomi Adeshida.

Those on the Federal Government team to the meeting, led by President Umaru Yar’Adua, are Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, Minister of Defence and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Panel, General Godwin Abbe (rtd), Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Ubong Uffot Ekeatte and the Minister of State, Finance, Mr Remi Babalola.

Also on the government delegation are the National Security Adviser, (NSA) General Mulktar Sarki, Special Assistant (SA) to the President, Petroleum Matters, Dr Emmanuel Egbogah, SA on Niger Delta and Amnesty, Chief Timi Alaibe, Amnesty Coordinator, Air Vice Marshal Ararile, Managing Director of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr Chibuzor Ugwoha, Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Engr Rabbe Darma, National Coordinator, NAPEP Mr Magnus Kpakor, Director-General SMEDAN, Alhaji Nadada Umar, among others.

The Governors of the affected States who were also at the meeting include that of Bayelsa, Chief Timipreye Sylva, Delta, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Edo, Commrade Adams Ohsiomole, Akwa-Ibom, Cheis Godswill kpabio, Cross River, Liyel Imoke, and the Deputy Governors of Ondo, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, while Rivers was not represented at the meeting.


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