By Emmanuel Aziken & Inalegwu Shaibu
Abujaâ€”The Senate yesterday praised President Umaru Yar’Adua for his peace initiatives in the Niger Delta region but rejected attempts to nominate him for a Nobel Peace prize for the effort.
The Senate’s resolution followed a motion moved by 56 senators who commended the Presidentâ€™s initiatives in restoring peace to the hitherto restive Niger Delta region.
A prayer to recommend him for the Nobel Peace prize was, however, rejected on the argument that it was an international award.
Moving the motion yesterday, Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange (PDP, Bayelsa East), noted that the region was for nine years under the siege of militant groups fighting for a share of its oil wealth.
He said the armed struggle was because of the neglect of the region which has suffered great environmental degradation as a result of oil exploration.
He noted that Yarâ€™Adua was able to quell the agitations and disarm the militants without blood as against armed confrontations by previous governments.
The motion was supported by the senators.
Among them were Grace Bent (PDP, Adamawa South), Victor Ndoma-Egba (PDP, Cross River Central), Nkechi Nwaogu (PDP, Abia Central), Joseph Akargerger (PDP, Benue), Uche Chukwumerije (PPA, Abia North), Tanko Ayuba (PDP, Kebbi), Nicholas Ugbane (PDP, Kogi East)andÂ Eme Ufot-Ekaette (PDP, Akwa Ibom South).
Supporting the motion, Chukwumerije said: â€œWhen you thank a person for a good job, he would do more. Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s regime has restored peace in the Niger Delta region. For the peace to be lasting, two steps must be taken including aggressive approach to development of the area.
Ekaette, who commended the Presidentâ€™s peace initiatives, however, expressed concern that the arms submitted by the converted militants was only a fraction of arms in the region.
Senator Ndoma-Egba called for urgent steps to develop the region, noting that the agitation was provoked by ill-feelings arising from perceptions that Abuja was developed at the expense ofÂ the oil-bearing region.
He called for a cocktail of goodwill, good fate and political will to sustain the peace in the region.
Ayuba said: â€œFor nine years, the Niger Delta region has been a cause of concern to this country. There is no doubt that the main wealth of this country lies in the region. It is not only in the Niger Delta that we have proliferation of arms. This feat should be extended to other parts of the country where we have proliferation of arms
â€œI want the government to embark on massive housing programmes in the area which should be completed within nine months.
The prayer to nominate Yar’Adua for the Nobel Peace prize was amended to remove the nomination for a Nobel on the fact that the prize was an international award.