By Emeka Mamah
KADUNA â€” PRESIDENT Umaru Yarâ€™Adua has said that the success of amnesty programme, granted militants in the Niger Delta region, has enhanced the status of Nigeria as a peaceful state in the comity of nations.
Speaking yesterday at a post-amnesty summit organised by the Centre for Alternative Policy Perspectives and Strategy, CAPPS, with support from the Bayelsa State Government in Kaduna, President Yarâ€™Adua, who was represented by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Uffot Ekaette, explained that he had met with all the Niger Delta Governors with a view to putting in place a workable programme of rehabilitation and reintegration of the ex-militants.
The President said that the Niger Delta occupies a strategic place in the quest to make Nigeria one of the 20 most developed countries by 2020.
Chairman of the occasion, Justice Mamman Nasir, described the summit as â€œmost auspiciousâ€, adding that the amnesty for Niger Delta militants is a call for all Nigerians to â€œcome back to their sensesâ€.
Nasir lauded Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa state, for facilitating the post-amnesty confidence-building summit, saying it will help bring back normalcy to our country
Governor Sylva, who spoke at the event praised President Yarâ€™Adua for his â€œextraordinary vision in providing the Niger Delta and the whole of Nigeria with the gift of compassion, tolerance, dialogue and peaceful co-existenceâ€.
He charged the summiteers, comprising a quality audience of key leaders of thought from the North and the South-South to support the president in his determination to bring a realistic change to the country.
According to him, â€œI cannot help but call for continuity. Continuity of vision, continuity of purpose. All I call for now is continuity and sustenance of this policy thrust. It is the best way to guarantee the success of the post-amnesty goalsâ€.
According to him, the conflict in the Niger Delta over the ownership, control, and distribution of the regionâ€™s oil resources is not an abnormality, but a normal feature in a pluralist society, such as Nigeria. â€œIt is the management of such perennial conflicts that matters, that is, the ability of people to balance multiple interests and expectations, and to negotiate around the real, potential and even illusionary distances that divide one unity from another,â€ Sylva said.
He pointed out that in a diverse society like Nigeria, â€œeach group here has a point to make, a case to state and a possibility to yearn for.
The greatness of the Nigerian project derives from the totality of these points, these cases and their possibilities.â€
Sylva identified â€œreal and perceived marginalisationâ€ as the underlying factor in the Niger Delta conflict, saying, â€œthe Federal Governmentâ€™s amnesty programme should not be construed as an event.”