Yenagoa – Renowned university don and environmentalist, Prof Godini Darah yesterday said the pain caused by the over fifty years of neglect inflicted on the people of the Niger Delta is such that no amnesty programme could heal.
Presenting a paper at a Media Retreat For Journalists in the Niger Delta region organised by Environment Watch on Friday, Prof Darah warned various tiers of government against misconstruing the prevailing peace in the region to mean the absence of protest.
He said experience so far has shown the Nigerian government and the oil companies take peace to mean the absence of protest and conflict to guarantee uninterrupted flow of oil and gas and therefore revenue for the federation account.
â€œFor the victims of the oil industry in the Niger Delta, peace means the elimination of all the factors that generate conflict, exploitation and poverty in a resource-rich environment,â€ he declared adding that chief among these are laws and policies that empower the government and the oil companies to commit atrocities against the host communities and the environment.
He called for the abrogation of all obnoxious laws as well as adequate funding for all the agencies set up for the implementation of Amnesty programmes.
Professor Darah asked the government to release white paper on the report Ledum Mitee led Niger Delta Technical Committee set up in 2008.
Commenting on the activities of the intervention agencies-Niger Delta Development Commission and the Ministry of the Niger Delta, he said the two bodies do not have the financial muscle to undertake the tasks assigned to them.
He added, even with the best of funding within the constraints of the national budget, these two institutions cannot do better than offer palliatives.
The university don therefore called for the establishment of a special fund as was in the case of Abuja to transform the Niger Delta.
His words, â€œI support the proposal for the establishment a Niger Delta special fund such as was applied in the transformation of Abuja from a savannah wilderness to the world’s fastest growing city. The construction firms that handled the roads and other critical facilities were paid in crude oil. The same method should be adopted in the financing of the Niger Delta development plan.â€