Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe
By Ahamefula Ogbu
Two major ex-militants from the Niger Delta, Ateke Tom and Ebikabowei Victor Ben, (aka Boyloaf), have threatened to withdraw their support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration unless things changed in the interest of Nigerians.
They called for action against all forms of incompetence on the part of government appointees whose failures and incompetence were constituting embarrassments to the people.
The ex-militants specifically mentioned the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, and his Petroleum Resources counterpart, Diezani Allison-Madueke, for failing to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
They added that failure to sack the two officials, they should not be held responsible for what will follow.
The duo in a three-page statement obtained by THISDAY, alleged that Jonathan had not done his best in attending to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians and called for an enlarged emergency meeting of the Izon Ikemi, an umbrella union of hard-line Ijaws in the country, to decide on some important issues.
Titled “State of the Nation as it affects the Niger Delta”, the ex-militants expressed disappointment with the way things are in their region and concluded that the president has not done badly but if certain things were not put right, “he might be headed for a dooms day.”
“So far, in summary, we believe that the government of President Jonathan has not done its best in reaching the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians who overwhelmingly voted for him, even we his own people are seriously dissatisfied with the way things are going and may be left with no option than to withdraw our support for his government if things don’t change in the best interest of Nigerians.”
Going down memory lane, they recalled how the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua initiated the amnesty programme which Jonathan then as Vice-President coordinated and due to their desire to give peace a chance, they agreed to some terms which included development of the Niger Delta among other things.
They expressed regret that some years down the line, the creation of Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the strengthening of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which were part of the agreements have not yielded any positive results in the development of the region.
“With recent happenings, we have come to the conclusion that the ministry that was set up to look into issues of infrastructural development of the region has turned to a total, catastrophic failure and embarrassment to the government and people it was set up to look into their affairs.”
They accused Orubebe of mishandling the ministry, endangering the their future and that of unborn generations by what they termed “Singular selfish reasons of amassing wealth for his personal gains,” which evidence they alleged manifest from the East-West Road to the shoreline protection contracts as well as skills acquisition programmes.
“From statistics available, the amount of Nigerians that have died along the East-West Road because of its deplorable state is 10 times the number of people that died during the entire Niger Delta struggle.
“We risked our lives in the creeks for years to fight and agitate for our region to be recognised and given attention by the Federal Government, only for it to come and we sit and watch a few people destroy it, we are now saying enough is enough. If nothing is urgently done we fear for the future and we cannot be held responsible.
“President Jonathan must now take the issues raised by various stakeholders seriously and address the yearnings and cry of Nigerians,” they insisted.
On the oil and gas sector, the ex-militants: “The Ministry of petroleum is in charge of overseeing the affairs of the Nigerian oil and gas sector is now a theatre of monumental fraud where all manner of shady deals are orchestrated. It is no longer news that things have gone so bad also thereby bringing serious embarrassment and shame to the government of President Jonathan.
“We are now being called a region of incompetent leaders, and the same ministry is headed by a Niger Delta person, Diezani Alison Madueke. We are calling in strong terms that action be taken now to save our people this shame,” they stated.
On the amnesty programme, they disagreed with Asari Dokubo who allegedly dismissed the programme as ‘419 and total failure’ but advised that actions be taken to correct some anomalies already noticed in its implementation.
They, however, admitted that: “Of recent times, we have observed that the programme has been politicised and sectionalised by the leadership of the Amnesty programme and we strongly feel it should not be in the best interest of the entire programme.”