By Sola Adebayo and Friday Olokor:
Former militant leaders have advised Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to concentrate on three strategic areas — power, electoral reforms and post-amnesty programmes — in order to move the country forward.
The ex-militant chiefs, in a statement after their meeting in Arogbo-Ijaw, Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State, on Sunday, also warned the governors of the Niger Delta states and political leaders in the region opposed to Jonathan, to desist or face the music.
The statement was signed on their behalf by Secretary of the Federal Government Committee on Peace and Conflict Resolution in the Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, and the former leader of Camp Five, Chief Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo).
The statement was made available to one of our correspondents on Monday just as some former militants disrupted an on-going second term examinations at the Federal Government Girls College, Ugbowo, Benin, Edo State.
The ex-militant leaders said, “ The Acting President should restrict his priority to power, electoral reforms and most importantly, the implementation of the quick wind programmes of the post-amnesty agenda for the empowerment and development of the Niger Delta people and their land.
“The Acting President should restructure the implementation and mechanism of the post-amnesty programme.
“This must take human and programme restructuring to reflect the aspiration and vision of the people of the Niger Delta and the Nigerian state.”
The statement, which did not contain the names of other ex-militant bosses that attended the meeting, accused some serving and former governors of the states in the Niger Delta of plotting to frustrate the Jonathan presidency.
The former militant leaders vowed to deal with anybody found to be opposed to Jonathan’s aspiration to lead the country out of the woods.
They said, “We have all unanimously endorsed that the Acting President is our brother and leader. We are giving him 100 per cent of loyalty, commitment, support and backing within the period of his mandate to move the nation forward.
“We will not hesitate to undermine any element of undue opposition to him (Jonathan) from the Niger Delta and Nigeria in general. We enjoin every Ijaw man, nay Niger Deltans, to support Jonathan.”
The ex-militant leaders also reacted to the recent bomb blasts in Warri, Delta State, and directed Ekpemupolo to consult widely with his colleagues and other relevant stakeholders in the region to avert a future occurrence.
On the Jos crisis, they warned that they would no longer tolerate the killing of their kinsmen in the area under the guise of religious crisis.
They, therefore,urged Jonathan to restructure the military operations in Plateau State and concede more powers to Governor Jonah Jang, to enable him deal decisively with the situation.
They said, “We condemn the destruction of lives and property in Jos, Plateau State, and we view it more as political than religious and therefore urge those who want to use the Jos situation to derail our nascent democracy to desist from such because we will no longer sit down to see our brethrens being murdered and slaughtered in Jos.
“We urge the Acting President to empower the governor, who is the chief security officer in Plateau State, and restructure as well as redefine the roles of the Joint Military Task Force in Plateau State .
“Finally, we are going to collaborate with the Ijaw Youth Council by putting together institutions to ensure free and fair elections in Ijaw land, nay Niger Delta. We are ready for politicians who think that it will be easy for them to rig the elections in 2011 and 2012.”
In Benin, Edo State, there was apprehension among parents when repentant militants arrived the Federal Government Girls College and disrupted ongoing examinations by pupils.
Before entering the FGGC, the former militants, numbering about 400, had taken over the busy Benin-Lagos Expressway thereby causing panic among motorists and their passengers. The college was where they had surrendered their arms and waited for rehabilitation.
One of our correspondents reported that there was a traffic jam as motorists parked their vehicles for more than an hour waiting for the former militants to vacate the highway.
As the protest raged on, the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kachi Udeoji, ordered his men to the college to ensure that nothing happened to the pupils of the college.
The ex-militants, who were said to have been exasperated by their non- documentation by the Federal Government, had last month protested at the Edo State Government House over the issue.
Mr. Eti Confidence, spokesman for the protesters, said they were members of the Lord Agbuke-led Niger Delta Freedom Fighters, who surrendered their weapons after the October 4, 2009 deadline for the submission of arms and ammunitions by ex-militants.
Another member of the NDFF, who declined to be named, however described the protesting militants as people who were only capitalising on the “success” of the amnesty programme to seek recognition.
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