Posted by Sun News Online on
Determined to find lasting peace in Niger Delta states, the Federal Government on Monday announced the constituting of a peace and reconciliation committee to halt the crisis in the region.
Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, who announced this in Port Harcourt, said that the committee would be headed by Senator David Brigidi of Bayelsa State, with Hon. Kingsley Kuku as secretary.
Jonathan also announced two persons each from the six states of the South-South, one representative each from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the police and the State Security Services (SSS) as members of the committee,
Flanked by the governors of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Cross River and Edo states, the chairman of NDDC and the managing director, the vice president said the committee would, in the next 12 months, concentrate on peace and conflict resolution in the Niger Delta after of which its terms of reference would be reviewed
Jonathan, who hinted that he was acting on the mandate given by President Umar Yar'Adua that the Niger Delta issue should be addressed, lamented that what is happening in the region was like a war that deserved an emergency situation.
He said that the central committee would deal with cross-border conflicts, co-ordinate the issues of hostage taking and hostilities, while each state will set up similar committees to co-ordinate peace and reconciliation.
Jonathan, who described the Niger Delta problem as an age-long issue due to neglect by succeeding administration, also announced that a summit to address issues relating to the Niger Delta development would soon be convened, where all the stakeholders would sit and take a decision.
Advocating dialogue as the best option out of the present impasse, the vice president called on all the warring militia groups to observe a ceasefire as nothing would be achieved under the present hostilities.
According to him, it would be highly misleading to think that the problem started in the past eight years or to say that the problem was as a result of the misappropriation of fund.
"No, it is as a result of decades of neglect, beginning in 1956 when oil was first struck in commercial quantity at Oloibiri," Jonathan said.
He thanked the committee members for agreeing to serve and urged them to see their assignment as tasking, and not a tea party.
Earlier, in his opening remark, Rivers State governor, Sir Celestine Omehia, said they decided to take the bull by the horns following the escalating hostilities in the region, which had driven away multinational key players in the oil and gas industry.
Omehia, who announced the setting of the Rivers Peace and Reconciliation Committee as directed by the Presidency, with Alhaji Hassan Douglas as chairman and Jerry Needam as secretary, urged the committee to reach out to the warring youths in the creeks, who may have been misled into believing that might was right, to give peace a chance and become useful members of the society.
Responding, Alhaji Douglas, who spoke on behalf of Sen Brigidi, promised that members of the committee would take their assignment with all the seriousness it deserved.
Members of the committee include George Timinimi and Godwin Ebosa from Delta State, Alhaji Hassan Douglas and Jerry Needam from Rivers State, Chief James Jephtah and Joshua Benamesia from Bayelsa State, Arc Esoetok Ikpong and Elder Bassey O. Ekpa from Akwa Ibom, Chief Asaka Umeh and Barr. Bassey Okim from Cross Rivers State, Prince Francis Iyasere and Mrs. Florence Gbinije Erhabor from Edo State.