By Sam Eyoboka
WORRIED by the confusionÂ currently trailing the Federal Governmentâ€™s amnesty package for Niger Delta militants, especially the recent allegation of plans to eliminate repentant freedom fighters in the creeks, Christians in the region have decided to resort to prayers for the resolution of the protracted crisis in the area.
Rising from an emergency executive meeting at the weekend in Warri, Delta State, the Niger Delta Christian Leaders Forum, NDCLF, has declared Monday a day of prayers for the peace in the troubled region.
Sources close to the Forum revealed yesterday that its leadership has enjoined Christians in the nine oil-rich states that make up the Niger Delta to hold a solemn prayer session against continued oppression of the people of the region.
According to the source, the prayer sessions will hold simultaneously in designated centres in the affected nine states of the region and the prayer points actually reflect some of the grievances and agitations of the people of the region.
A document signed by the chairman and secretary of NDCLF prayer committee, Rev. E.O. Onofurho and Rev. Godâ€™s Treasure Akeh, res-pectively, the prayer points will include the desire for the Federal Government to develop the political will to do right things in the region that will bring about lasting peace.
â€œLet God touch the hearts of all stakeholders in the country and all those in-volved in the disbursement of funds for the implemen-tation of developmental programmes in the region, to use such funds are properly used and for the well being of the people,â€ the statement added.
Other prayer points include the desire for God to touch the hearts and minds of Presi-dent Umaru Yarâ€™Adua and members of the National Assembly towards develop-ing the infrastructure in the region. Christians in the nine Niger Delta states are also being urged to pray for the Federal Government to respond positively to the various developmental reports about the region that date back to the early 1950s.
They are also expected to pray for divine intervention â€œto dismantle, defeat and destroy structures, person-alities and organisations that have confused and stood on the way of policy implementa-tion that would change Nigeria and the Niger Delta region in particular.
The Christian leaders also frowned at controversies surrounding the Petroleum Industry Bill currently before the National Assembly and they are therefore praying that all agencies responsible for the passage of the bill into law should do so with the fear of God in their hearts.
â€œThat the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) should be passed as it is now; with the overall interest of the people of the region adequately taken care off,â€ the statement added.
Another issue that will occupy the minds of the Christians is the current reorganisation excercise taking place at the NNPC, praying God to arise and â€œintervene in the NNPC administrative structure as it affects the Niger Delta region.â€
Similarly, the Christian leaders are not comfortable with happenings at the University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, especially after the alleged plan to relocate it to Kaduna. They are therefore praying to God to influence the Federal Government to demonstrate its commitment to retaining the only federal educational institution in Delta State by releasing more funds for the development of the institution to allay fears of the people that the school would remain.
NDCLF also has plans to pray for unity among the gover-nors and stakeholders in the region so that they can speak with one voice, just as it would pray for the salvation of militants in the area with a view to accepting the Federal Government amnesty and ensuring security in the Creeks.
Feelers reaching us also indicate that the Christians will pray for the dismantling of all negative plans against the financial and economic growth of the country and the region by some northern Nigerian cabal.
Our reporter recalls that among other things, the leadership of the NDCLF recently joined other Niger Delta citizens to protest certain pronouncements accredited to the Petroleum Minister, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman over the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, Delta State and actuaaly called for his immediate redeployment.
The protest letter signed by the NDCLF president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and Secre-tary, Rev. Eddy Bebor and addressed to President Yarâ€™Adua also frowned at the current re-organisation in the NNPC, saying that it did not reflect the corporate interest of the oil producing region. The Forum was also uncomfortable about the Federal Governmentâ€™s seeming unwillingness to fish out all those behind the large scale illegal bunkering in the region, urging the Yarâ€™Adua admini-stration to demonstrate its determination to address the Niger Delta crisis by imme-diately prosecuting those illegal bunkerers in the area.