By Omon-Julius Onabu in Warri
*As Sule succeeds Gemu as NNS Delta Commanding Officer
Outgoing Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta, Commodore Musa Gemu, has urged the Federal Government to take urgent measures to beat the erring local leaders into line in the effort to ensure sustainable peace among host communities of the multi-billion dollar gas city project in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State.
He stated this in an address at the farewell parade held in his honour at the Naval Base Warri on Thursday.
Gemu expressed worry that any vestiges of communal disagreement might be ultimately detrimental to the actualization of the huge venture in terms of an enduring peaceful environment for the effective operation of the Ugborodo Export Processing Zone (EPZ) gas project.
Some local leaders had defied a series of peace efforts, particularly through the EPZ Interface Committee of Ogidigben-Ugborodo, which the Delta State Government had instituted towards fashioning a lasting solution to the crisis.
The unresolved issue of internally displaced persons, who some persons claiming to be the custodians of community customs and traditions continue to bar from the place, portends some danger, the outgoing commander warned.
He therefore urged the Federal Government to take urgent steps necessary to compel the recalcitrant parties in the communities to embrace the terms of peace proffered by the authorities by allowing their displaced kith and kin to return to their homes.
Gemu said, “The groundbreaking ceremony has been carried out to lay foundation for the takeoff of the EPZ Gas project. However, unless the Ugborodo people address the issue of the internally displaced persons, the realization of this project is still on a long journey; which the Federal Government must address as quickly as possible, bearing in mind the Constitution of Nigeria which surpasses any customs and tradition of any community.”
Gemu, who was commissioned in 1985 and recently promoted Commodore, nevertheless, said that his insistence on the roundtable approach in dealing with oil companies-host communities disputes produced good results with serious crises and destruction averted all through the about a year and two months he was in charge at the NNS Delta.
“In dealing with oil companies and host communities, I applied the wisdom of talking on the roundtable to resolve issues rather than holding companies to ransom or using violence to drive home a point”, he noted. “It is equally on record that because of this approach no life was lost during my tenure.”
Gemu noted that the NNS Delta’s role of policing the waterways and protecting lives and property towards the fostering of economic activities in its area of jurisdiction was “tortuous and challenging but rewarding” in the long run.
He advised the officers as well as the rank and file of NNS Delta to make discipline and vigilance their watchword even as they extended the same hand of fellowship to the new helmsman, Commodore Aliyu A. Sule, especially in the spirit of the transformation agenda and the current transition in the country.
While urging them to respect their civilian compatriots always, Gemu said, “We must always be security conscious at all times. This therefore calls for all and sundry to remain vigilant in their duty posts and report any unusual happenings to enable informed decisions.”
Nonetheless, the outgoing commander acknowledged the support of the Chief of Naval Staff as well the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Stanley Ehije Ogoigbe and the Niger-Delta security Joint Task Force (JTF) otherwise called “Operation Pulo Shield” which ensured his successful watch at NNS Delta.
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