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 aÂ tripatite meeting involving Governors of the Niger Delta, the Federal Gobvernment and the militant leaders.Â in Abuja.Governor OshiomoleÂ Â spoke to State House Correspondents on behalf of other governors.
He said never in history of Nigeria has any leader had the kind ofÂ vision President Yarâ€™Adua has for the region. In fact, he said if former leaders had shown half of the commitment President Yarâ€™Adua has shown the Niger-Delta the situation would not have escalatedÂ Â Â Â Â Â before the Amnesty.
Also speaking on behalf of the former militantsâ€™ leaders, Chief Tompolo who refused to elaborate declared that â€œthe meeting was OKâ€
The Governors of the affected State led the key former militantsâ€™ 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 meetingÂ Â Â that for the benefits of post amnesty to manifest, great patience, perseverance and hard work will be required but was hopeful if â€˜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. â€™, He added thatÂ the Administration was already working hard to ensure an unqualified success of the process.
He said the â€˜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 regionâ€™, He saidÂ this will require â€˜great patience, perseverance and hard work from all of usâ€™.
He appealed to all concerned in the process to show â€˜sincerity of purpose and patience, because development takes time and huge resourcesâ€™ and not to lose sight of the goal.
President Yarâ€™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 militantsâ€™ 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).
Those on the Federal Government team to the meeting, led by President Umaru Yarâ€™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.