By Adekunle Adekoya
MR Asu Beks is the President of Ijaw Media Forum. In this Interview with GBENGA OKE, he spoke on the post amnesty programme of President Yarâ€™Adua, and called on the youths of the Niger-Delta region to give peace a chance for development. Excerpts.
Fears has been raised over the federal governmentâ€™s post amnesty programme. What is your assessment of events regarding the post-amnesty programme?
Yes, I used to have those fears in the past because when you look at the character of the Yarâ€™Adua administration, it is one administration that many Nigerians believe has this kind of bad culture of not keeping to promises, but you cannot just forget the prolonged ASUU strike, from the Niger Delta ministry that was created, several other things, the overhauling of the refineries, the issue of power and a lot of other promises that the administration came up with when they came onboard and not much has been achieved so far.
So, when the issue of this post amnesty came onboard, some of us felt that it is one of those jokes that will never get to work, but with what we have seen in a couple of weeks and with statements that has come out from the presidency, especially with this recent meeting he had with Henry Okah, something deep tells me that for once, Mr President wants to put these crises of the Niger Delta behind him permanently and I have a strong feeling that Mr President means well.
As a Niger Deltan, do you foresee a situation whereby this struggle will be put behind at once and promises delivered?
(Cuts in) I think so, especially the issue of infrastructural development, I heard that a supplementary budget will soon be sent to the National Assembly and that this PIB bill, the issue of the communities having 10 per cent joint venture, contracts, all those things are being planned for the region and if that happens, I think that the peace that has eluded the Niger Delta region will now come.
And when that happens, the next battle will now be for those of us in the region. If we must allow those projects we are expecting to take place, those of us in the region must cooperate with government. We must give a conducive atmosphere for contractors to move into the region. We must talk to our boys to realize the fact we need peace to allow development take place and so contractors coming in, Julius Berger and others must be free and safe to work in the area.
The NDDC must also be up and doing, we donâ€™t want to hear of situations where funds released in budget are being returned. We heard the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole saying of the N59 billion approved for capital projects in the Niger Delta ministry, not a single contract has been awarded, I donâ€™t want to believe it is true, but if it is true, then those two ministers should tender their resignation letters and apologize to the people of the Niger Delta and apologize to Mr president that they have failed.
You talked about the development of the region and the PIB bill, does it not look absurd that at this level Nigeria, not even a single refinery is working?
That is something that is unacceptable to Nigerians. If there is anything the Yarâ€™Adua administration can do to make sure that our refineries work before he leaves office, that will be a big plus for him because he himself has identified the racketeering in the NNPC concerning fuel importation, people are making huge profits and talking about subsidy and no subsidy, how do you subsidize for Godâ€™s sake what you donâ€™t produce because this products that are brought to this country is something that is imported and you say you want to subsidize it, these things are not under your control and it is tiring that in this country, the largest oil producing country in Africa, the 6th in the world, that we cannot operate functioning refineries, it is a disgrace and I hope that President Yarâ€™Adua will correct this anomaly.