By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURTâ€“ A MAJOR threat to the peace amnesty deal emerged, yesterday, in the Niger Delta when ex-militant leaders led by Ateke Tom and Government Ekpemupolo,Â a.k.a. Tompolo issued a statement urging President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to immediately empower Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President until such a time he would be strong enough to take back his job.
The statement also called for suspension of the debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill until issues bothering on the vacuum created by the absence of the President were resolved.
The ex-militant leaders noted that the long absence of the President, on health grounds, was impacting negatively on the post amnesty programme for repentant militants in the region.
They said that at the moment, nothing was going-on, a situation they feared could result to rebirth of restiveness in the region. The statement said: â€œThe unfolding national drama arising from this absence has brought two major issues into focus.
The first of these is the derailment of the implementations of the post amnesty programme which has been stalled due to the absence of the President.
â€œAlready there are signs of growing restiveness of the youths in the Niger Delta region who are interpreting the lull in the implementation of the post amnesty promises as a betrayal on the part of the Federal Government. This feeling, we must warn, has the potential of further escalating the already heated polity.â€
They described the reluctance of the federal executive council to empower Goodluck Jonathan as acting president, as a ploy to undermine the people of the region, stressing: â€œThe inexplicable adamancy in refusal of the federal executive council and the National Assembly to empower the Vice President as stipulated in the constitution to assume responsibility as president and continue with the implementation of the post amnesty programme and other national demands is a calculated abuse and undermining of the Niger Delta people.
â€œIn line with this disrespect shown us, our son and brother, the Vice President, especially the refusal to empower him as acting president and the continued neglect of the Niger Delta people and region, we state unequivocally, that if these ills are not corrected as required by the constitution in no distant time, we will decide on an appropriate line of action,â€ the statement added.