By Tony Nyong
UYOâ€”Despite the declaration of the new Defence Minister, Major General Godwin Abbe (rtd), that he would ruthlessly deal with challenges that may threaten the peace and security of the country whether within or outside, the President General of Afiid Iwad Ekiid, a foremost socio-cultural organisaton in Akwa Ibom State, has warned that the amnesty and disarmament programme of the Federal Government may disrupt the nationâ€™s democracy if not properly implemented.
Obong Iwaad Ibanga Etang, who was baring his mind to some journalists recently, said while the amnesty package unfolded by government was commendable, the Presidential panel on amnesty and disarmament must be careful and transparent in the entire matter otherwise the programme would not be meaningful.
Etang, speaking the mind of the youths of the area, said youths were already preaching the message of dialogue, peace and negotiations and appealed to the youths of the other states of the Niger Delta and the various groups to embrace the olive branch offered by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua and give peace a chance.
He urged Okah, Dokubo, and the leaders of the other camps to convene a conference of the youths of the Niger Delta and take a tour around the camps and see how they could persuade the youths, who according to him over-reacted because they have been neglected for too long to come out of the creeks in order not to give the government of the day grounds to give excuses should they fail this time around since the whole world is watching.
On what he described as the seemingly selective application of the rule of law over the appointment of the Managing Director of the NDDC, the President General disclosed that youths in the state had mobilized to go to Abuja and demonstrate in the National Assembly and inÂ the Presidency against the injustice, butÂ for the fact that they have a governor that has done so much for the people that the youths heeded his advice and decided to wait until such a time they would have exhausted their patience.
Although canvassing for the proper funding of the NDDC and the Niger Delta Ministry which he said were grossly under funded, Etang said what started as mereÂ Â demand became an agitation and eventually resulted in confrontation when the previous governments were becoming too insensitive to the plight of the people, stressing that the Niger Delta issue was the whole nationâ€™s affair and that the entire Nation-State should be involved.