24 January 2013

Nigeria: Ex-Militants Rue State of East-West Road

Port Harcourt — Former leaders of militant camps in the Niger Delta have condemned the slow pace of work on the East-West Road and expressed disappointment in the inability of the Federal Government to complete work on the road.

This came as the Rivers State chapters of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) traded blame over the verbal exchanges between the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, and Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, on the state of the road.

The ex-militants also expressed fears that the slow pace of President Goodluck Jonathan in handling issues might affect the integrity of the Ijaw people in the future.

In a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday, the ex-militants expressed shock over the disposition of Orubebe on the road, saying rather than wage a media war with Amaechi, the minister ought to have concentrated on how to fix the road and help the president to implement his programmes for the country.

The statement was signed by the leader of the Forum for Peace in the Niger Delta, Reuben Wilson, as well as Ezekiel Akpasibowei and Darikoro Alfred, who commanded camps in Delta and Bayelsa respectively.

The former warlords questioned the role of the Presidential Adviser on Research, Oronto Douglas, saying he used to be a vibrant activist before joining the government, wondering why he had not employed the same verve in the affairs of the country.

They said, "It is very disappointing that till date, Jonathan cannot fix the East-West Road. It is equally painful that he cannot tackle the issues of insecurity in the country. We do not want to mention the shameful neglect of the Koluama people of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State who have suffered so much deprivation as a result of last year's Chevron gas explosion.

"For the avoidance of doubt, Wilson, an ex- freedom fighter is the CSO of that clan. Till date, Mr. President has not thought it necessary to do anything concerning the plight of these people. We wonder what has become of the president's men that they cannot think less of their selfish gains and offer useful advice to him in the interest of the nation.

"The president needs to be told that Nigerians are not happy and they deserve a change in style. Our support for him as our son is not shaken but we demand that he should seek wise counsel before the rest of the world will tag the Ijaw people as toothless dogs who can only bark but can not show acceptable leadership if given the opportunity."

Meanwhile, the ACN, in a statement signed by the state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jerry Needam, said rather than join issues with the minister, Amaechi should have a rethink over the grave allegations of using the state resources on misplaced priorities and redirect his energies in developing the state with the huge resources at his disposal.

It said: "Rather than indulge in the disgusting verbal war Amaechi should read in between the lips of the minister and begin to come closer to the people with a view to attending to their problems."

The ACN also said Amaechi should "defend himself against the serious issues of under-developing the state vis-à-vis the huge federal allocations to Rivers State and the wanton use of state money to lobby northerners for the 2015 vice-presidential ticket."

In its reaction, the PDP condemned the ACN for its open support of what it called the unfounded verbal attack launched against Amaechi by Orubebe.

In a statement issued by the state Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. George Ukwuoma-Nwogba, the party described ACN's posture as "laughable, rotten in its gamut and replete with jealousy."

It dismissed ACN's call for the removal of Amaechi from office, saying such suggestion could have stemmed from ACN's condition of near-extinction in Rivers state.

The party also expressed shock at ACN's stance that Orubebe should be believed since he was a Federal minister, describing the assertion as illogical, mundane and frivolous.

It defended the Amaechi administration against allegations of improper utilisation of Rivers State resources, stating that Amaechi had not only embarked on visible projects but had saved about N38 billion so far through the monthly compulsory state savings.

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