By SimonÂ Ebegbulem
SOUTH-South governors, Saturday, warned their colleagues in the north and other leadersÂ to desist from makingÂ â€œinflammatoryâ€ and â€œdivisiveâ€ statements over the decision ofÂ the National Assembly to empower Dr.Â Goodluck Jonathan as acting president. The governors saidÂ such statements were threatening theÂ unity and stability of the nation.
While urgingÂ Nigerians to continue to pray for the speedy recovery of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, they restatedÂ their loyalty to him andÂ hailed Acting President Jonathan for showing â€œleadership at this most difficult and challenging timeâ€.
Rising from a meeting in Benin atÂ 3 a.m. yesterday, the governorÂ also expressed concern over the pace of the implementation of the post amnesty programme, which, they saidÂ â€œremains a shining legacy of the Yarâ€™Adua Presidencyâ€. They stressed the need for an urgent review of the post amnesty programme in a manner that governors from the region would be involved in the management of the programme, so as to ensure optimal implementation of all aspects of the programme.
The communiquÃ© of the meeting, which was read to newsmen by the governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, was signed by Imoke, Dr. Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole (Edo) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers). Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State wasÂ absent from the meeting.
The governors,Â in the communique, â€œwelcome the president back to the country and urged all citizens to join in prayers for the presidentâ€™s speedy recovery and return to office. The governors restate their loyalty to the president and commend the acting president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, for showing leadership at this difficult time.
â€œThe governors expressed concern that some individuals and groups are exploiting the situation for the promotion of personal, ethnic and regional interests. The governors condemn these actions and urged Nigerian elites to avoid inflammatory and divisive statements and actions that potentially endanger the stability of the nation. The National unity of the country out weighs any personal, ethnic or regional interestâ€.
Noting that the amnesty programme of Yarâ€™Adua had succefully brought the conflict in the Niger Delta to an end to the benefit of the nation, the governors, however, stressed: â€œIt is vital that funds are released and properly managed for the implementation of the post amnesty programme. The slow pace of the programme has led to frustration. A clear post training job creation programme need to be fully articulatedÂ and implemented to fully integrate these youths into beneficial endeavours in our societyâ€.
On the report of the Regional Economic Summit Committee, headed by Prof.Pat Utomi, theÂ governors accepted itÂ and set up a full-time secretariat called â€œBRACED COMMISSION SECRETARIATâ€, which would coordinate the vision and integrated regional development agenda. The BRACED commission comprises of the six states of the south south.
The governors restated their commitment to economic integration of the region and accepted to set up a Business Council to coordinate the activities of the private sector as a vital development organ for the regional economic development.
Representative of the civil society groups in the region, the Reverend David Ugolor, Executive Director of the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), expressed joy over the unity and cooperation that was exhibited by the governors as it relates to the post amnesty programme and the economic integration in the region.