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Sylva promises hard times for unrepentant militants

By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa—Hard times await any armed group in Bayelsa State which refuse to comply with Federal Government amnesty window after the October 4 deadline as the state government yesterday threatened to expose such militant groups.

Governor Timipre Sylva who gave the warning in a broadcast to the people of the state on the occasion of Nigeria’s independence and Bayelsa State’s 13th creation anniversaries, said the state cannot afford to go back to the past but forge ahead with the wind of change blowing across the land.

According to him, “the path of progress is our deliberate choice. We chose to succeed despite our difficult history. In Bayelsa State, we as a people cannot afford to go back to the past. We must move along with the wind of change.

“No one will be allowed to take us backwards. In a few days, the amnesty will be over. The state will be willing, ready, and available to give up anyone who fails to take advantage of the President’s amnesty window after the deadline,” he warned.

While commending the courage of the numerous youths who publicly embraced the amnesty package, the governor insisted that what the state needs for development is the sweat of its citizens, not their blood.

“Let me acknowledge the courage of our youths who have embraced the amnesty package, and decided to turn their backs on armed struggle.

“To my mind, the repentant militants have collectively and severally demonstrated uncommon patriotism. They deserve our support, understanding and encouragement. To this group of Bayelsans, we promise to continue to do everything in our power to reintegrate into normal society.”

“The government of Bayelsa State is in constant touch with the Federal Government and other partners on the issue of a comprehensive Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration Plan. Last year, I made the point that Bayelsa State needed the sweat of its citizens, not their blood. With the amnesty, we have put militancy behind us.”

Continuing he warned, “any individual, no matter how highly placed, found to be sponsoring youths to engage in militancy and other vices against our collective interest will be made to face the full force of the laws of our land.

“We must muster our inner energy, that extraordinarily powerful force of the Ijaw man that we have exerted all through history to surmount situations that have tried to impede our progress. Our individual motivations are needed now than ever before to sustain our march to progress”.

Sylva who enumerated the gains of Nigeria’s independence, said Bayelsa State had cause to celebrate under his administration which had pursued a policy of transparency and accountability on several fronts.

The governor revealed that Bayelsa is the only state in the Niger Delta working with the World Bank on social and infrastructural development and that in September, the World Bank Country Director on a visit to Yenagoa was full of praises for the economic reform agenda of his administration which is aimed at diversifying its economy base.

This has been complemented with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of the United States of America which was signed recently to promote transparency and capacity development for officials in the executive and legislative arms.

According to the governor, some of the completed projects under the first phase of the state infrastructural development agenda that were recently commissioned by President Musa Yar’Adua include the Gloryland Castle which is a new government lodge, a new gas turbine, and the Peace Park, among others.

The governor, however, pointed out that at 13, “we may not be where we should be, but Bayelsa has made progress. We must learn to appreciate and build on this progress rather than relapse into self-condemnation and self pity”.

In pursuant of aggressive development, he pointed out that the second phase of his development agenda which has since commenced includes: the development of agriculture, especially rice production which will be for export and local consumption. This is being done in conjunction with Vietnamese farmers that are already in the state.


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