ByÂ Emma Amaize
WARRI â€” GOVERNOR Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State said, yesterday, that Governors of the South-South region were convinced that President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua will not disappoint the people of the Niger-Delta in his plan to develop the region.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Vanguard, Governor Uduaghan said, â€œWhatever we (Governors) tell him, whatever we suggest, the bottom line is sincerity and you see, sometimes, you need to have faith. Collectively, we have faith and we have the belief that Mr. President will see through the plans he has for the Niger-Delta region because it has taken him a lot to get to where we are and I am not sure he wants us to go back to where we are coming fromâ€.
His words: â€œThe President recognises first that there has to be sincerity and each time he talks, he keeps stressing it, that there has to be sincerity, there has to be trustâ€.
The governor who commended the Federal Government for its decision on Tuesday to start the first phase of the construction of a railway project from Calabar-Uyo-Port-Harcourt-Yenagoa to Warri in the first phase and to Lagos via Edo state in the second phase, as well as a coastal road traversing the states in the region to Lagos asserted that Yarâ€™Adua was only being down-to-earth in his approach.
He also said the President had assured the governors of the region that he would not oppose the wishes of the region.
According to him, â€œMr President laid out his amnesty plan. It revolves around three key areas. One is rehabilitation; two, some structural changes in government and three, constitutional policies. Now, for the constitution as the President explained, he as President cannot start amending the constitution, it has to be done by the National Assembly and so, itâ€™s for the people of the Niger-Delta to say what they want as amendment to the constitution and push for it, lobby for it and he promised that as President, he will not oppose anything that the Niger-Delta people put forward.
â€œThen, for the policy changes, this, he said he could do, this has to do with the some policies of government as far as oil production and ownership are concerned. This is where the issue of the 10 per cent equity share by communities is very key.
And of course, the remaining nine percent, they are still working it out.Â But the important thing is that the Federal Government will divest 19 per cent of his shareholding, that is 60 per cent and it now comes to 41 per cent and in that 19 per cent, 10 per cent is for the communities. That is very interesting for us, we are very happy on that because if you would recall, in all my presentations on the issue of Niger-Delta crisis, I have always said that is the key.
â€œWhen I went on road show with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, over the national gas master plan, I kept saying the companies that are coming in should give some equity participation to the communities because if the Shell and Chevrons of this world by the time they came gave even as little as five per cent to the communities, today, these communities would not be where they are because that is a lot of money over time. That the Federal Government thought about it and is giving 10 per cent is a big credit for Mr. Presidentâ€, he asserted.
Ararile appeals to ex-militants for tolerance
Meanwhile, Coordinator of the Amnesty sub-committee of the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Militants, Air -Vice Marshal Lucky Ararile has appealed to ex-militants to exercise restraint, as the Federal Government was following due process in handling the different stages of the post-amnesty programme.
Ararile who stated this at the inauguration of the Delta State executive of a Non Governmental Group, Youths and Conflict Restoration Movement, YCRM, commended the national president of the group, Pastor Alex Kenerikedi for his initiatives in resolving conflicts among youths in the region.
Speaking on the occasion, Pastor Kenerikedi said, â€œThe group has fought dedicatedly for peace to reign in the Niger-Delta region and had spent enormous resources and time over the years to see that Niger Delta enjoyed peace through seminars, workshop, handbills and social eventsâ€.