By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”As the controversy surrounding calls for President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2011 polls rages, ex-militant leaders in the Niger Delta have faulted the Northern elders’ call for adoption of a zoning formula, describing it as unacceptable.
The ex-militant leaders, while calling on the leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to shun the purported zoning arrangement, urged the party to ensure a level playing ground for all the intending candidates in line with democratic norms.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Mr. Eris Paul, popularly known as Commander Ogunboss, said: â€œThe zoning policy of the North is not a commendable legacy as proposed by the Northern members of the PDP and it is a strange introduction to the constitution of Nigeria. That means the people are warning against a clear case of ignorance on the side of the Northern elements.
â€œThe North should not embark on a policy that may disorganise the economy of the country. Only God can determine what will happen if the North sees the presidency as their birth right.â€
He condemned the statement credited to MEND factional leader, Henry Okah, over a planned attack on Bayelsa State Government House, describing those involved as â€œingrates.â€
The ex-militant leader advised them to have a re-think, stressing the need for a change from violent path to institutional development of the region.
Ogunboss noted that though the issue being advocated by all ex-militants and freedom fighters in region bordered on peace and infrastructural development in coastal states, the threat by the faction of MEND, led by Henry Okah, was a departure from the reality of the needs of the people of the region.
â€œThe action of the group shows a deliberate act of ingratitude to the people of the region. The leaders of the region, includingÂ Bayelsa State governor, were responsible for the funding and political pressure that ensured the release of Henry Okah from detention.
“This is not the time to create confusion within the fold of the ex-militants but it is a time to create lasting peace in the region and to welcome the development agenda of the Federal Government as proposed in the post-amnesty plan.â€
Commander Ogunboss called on MEND members involved in the alleged plot to avoid the murky politics of the region and concentrate on the renewed agitation for an Ijaw man to become the president in 2011.
â€œThe goal of an Ijaw man is to ensure that we work against the zoning politics being advocated by the Northern elements in the PDP. I still donâ€™t believe that Henry Ikah made the statement credited to him, and we also state that if the country economy is expected to strive, they should ensure that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan emerged as the President in 2011.That is our stand. It is time for the people of the Niger Delta to unite.â€
â€˜They can divide our thought but they cannot divide our blood, not even our soul, spirit and body. It is time for us to unite and build the Ijaw nation with an Ijaw man as President in 2011. It is time for rapid development to Nigerians as a whole.
The sleeping time is over and every one must wake up to the call and to dream the biggest dream of unity” he said.â€