Why I convened 2014 Confab – Jonathan
By Samuel Oyadongha & Emem Idio, Yenagoa
Leaders of the Niger Delta under the aegis of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, were, yesterday, joined by ethnic leaders from the South-West, South-East and the Middle-Belt of the country at a mega rally held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State to renew their call for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation in the interest of justice and equity. But for the host governor, Hon Seriake Dickson, who was physically present at the event held at the Grand Pavillion of the Oxbowl Lake,his colleagues from the South-South were absent at the rally which attracted prominent personalities from the zone, the South-West, South-East and Middle-Belt.
The Chairman of the occasion, Chief Albert Horsfall, pioneer Chairman of Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC, set the tone for the rally. “The oil and gas belong to us, our freedom is a constitutional right, above all, it is God given right and nobody can give it to us or take it from us, therefore we should we should stop complaining”, Horsfall said.
“We of the Niger Delta of the South-South own this oil, the money that accrues to the country from it is ours, today you may be in charge, but tomorrow, we may be in charge, that is why we are asking for restructuring, tomorrow we will take to ourselves what belongs to us and we will snatch it from those who have been sitting on our lives for so long”.
PANDEF National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, said: “The purpose of this rally is for us to manage our own resources and if the governor of Bayelsa State as a federating unit of Nigeria was allowed to managed its own resources, what we are seeing in Yenagoa today would be different there will be more improvement and that is why we are gathering today. The gathering today is the greatest gathering of the people of four regions in one place.
“What are we fighting for- restructuring. We want quality in this country, we want to feel that we are all members of this society, a situation whereby the resources I have in my backyard are been mismanaged by others and they feel that I should be thankful to them for the privileged they have given to me, I will never allow it and that is the purpose of our gathering. We must trust ourselves, no more going back, nobody should chicken out, nobody is more important than us in this country, we are all equal.”
Revisit 2014 confab- Jonathan
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, represented by Senator Nimi Barigha Amange, while lauding PANDEF for organising the rally, stressed the need for the Federal Government to revisit the 2014 Confab report which, if implemented, could help to resolve the problems confronting the country.
Jonathan’s words, “I believe that this is the way to go; we have to dialogue in order to avoid the opposite action which could bring about destruction to lives, property and the very thing that holds us together as members of the Nigerian federation. For a long time, citizens of this great nation have felt the need to reappraise, reforme and restructure our federation to make it work for all Nigerians.
“I convened the 2014 National Conference as my own answer to that national yearning, I always explain to people that, in convening the confab, I had my mind trained on establishing a polity that would work for our people and further unite our country, one that would close the gap along tribal, ethnic or religious line’.
“It seems that until we come up with a more generally acceptable way of running our republic, there will be every likelihood that our nation will continue to witness agitation and protest from groups and individuals. The goal of the 500-member confab, made up of the young and old diverse people from all walks of life and representatives of all interest groups in our country, was to thoroughly and truly discuss and to agree on every issue that has agitated the minds of Nigerians on how best to run the federation.
“It is a confirmation of the fact that the 2014 Confab report needs to be looked into. I believe the Confab report contains recommendations that provide answers to most of those questions that agitate the minds of Nigerians today. I am delighted that the forum like this one and many others appeal to further focus attention to those issues that have been comprehensively covered in that report.”
In his remarks, Dickson said: “We are the real lovers and believers of the Nigerian project and no intimidation or blackmail should sway us to abandon this cause, our nation is crying justice freedom and prosperity and unity that is sustainable and founded on justice, and so, in this assembly, we are here as brothers and sisters. “People who are far away may just talk of restructuring as a slogan or as an ideal; here in this state and in this region, we feel the pains of it, we live with it and we have lived with it for decades and so when there is a call to reorganize our country and make it more stable, equitable, just and more prosperous, we in Bayelsa are totally in support of that”.
There were solidarity speeches by the leaders of Afenifere, led by Chief Ayo Adebanjo; the Ohaneze Ndigbo, led by Chief John Nwodo, and the leader of the Middle-Belt Forum, Dr Bala Takaya, among others.
Chief Olu Falae, Senator and Jonah Jang, representatives of the governor of Akwa Ibom state, represented by the SG, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, Delta state governor represented by Senator Emmanuel Aguariovodo, Senator Ewa Henshaw and Alhaji Mujahid Asari Dokubo also addressed the occasion.
Dignitaries at the event include Alabo Graham Douglas, HRM King Alfred Diete Spiff, Dr Walter Ofonagoro, Prof Godini Darah, former governor of Ondo state Olusegun Mimiko, former Delta State Deputy Governor Prof Amos Utuama, former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom state, Engr Chrs Ekpenyong, Senator Stella Omu, Prof Faji Akintoye, former military governor of Rivers State, Gen Zamani Lekwot.
There was a one-minute silence for those who were killed by herdsmen violence in the country.