By Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The immediate past Governor of Delta State and Delta South senatorial aspirant under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, over the weekend recounted his efforts at achieving peace during the fratricidal Warri crisis and dark days of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
Uduaghan spoke in a post he made on his Facebook page last Friday to mark the World Peace Day, saying, “I am not doing this to evoke buried animosity or stoke up old wounds but to give us a sense of gratitude for successfully crawling out of our dark past and also urge us to continue to work for the growing peace we are enjoying in our state today”.
The post read thus: “Today is World Peace Day. As we join the rest of the international community to celebrate world peace, I think those of us in Niger Delta (particularly Delta State) have a lot to celebrate.
“Today would have just passed like any other day but for the reminder that it is World Peace Day.
“For those who may not be familiar with the deep ethnic cleavages in Delta State or may have forgotten how Delta State was the hotbed of violence -ranging from ethnic clashes to Oil Company-community feud to kidnapping to militancy and flood situation, let me use today’s opportunity to cast our minds back to the very dark days. I am not doing this to evoke buried animosity or stoke up old wounds but to
give us a sense of gratitude for successfully crawling out of our dark past and also urge us to continue to work for the growing peace we are enjoying in our state today.
“There was a time in our state, especially in Warri and its environs when bullets rained in our roofs, when an Ijaw man could not stand an Itsekiri man, when our creeks were flowing with blood and ashes of burnt properties, when I used to frequent the creeks. Religous leaders such as Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Bishop God-Do-Well Awhovmakpa and other clergymen, traditional rulers such as Dein of Agbor, Pere of Akugbene Kingdom who had the courage to venture into the dreaded creeks. Even some of our youths were involved.
“As SSG under my boss, Chief James Ibori and as Executive Governor, peace and security were my topmost preoccupation. I even had to make it an item on my administration’s Three Point Agenda -the other two being Human Capital Development and Infrastructural Development.
“I recall an instance when a gun was pointed at me after striping me and only one orderly of any means of communication and weapons. Still, it didn’t deter me from returning to the troubled areas to sue for peace between the warring tribes and plead with the militants to stop bombing oil installations. They were traumatizing yet unforgettable learning experiences that formed the core of my people-policy approach to governance.
“Writing this, I can still recollect that smile of victory on face of the then Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan shortly after we both returned from the creeks, signaling the end of hostilities and heralding the biggest Amnesty Programme in Africa courtesy of President Musa Yar’Adua of blessed memory.
“The end of the protracted Warri crisis, hostage taking, kidnapping and militancy ushered in a new era of picking what was left of our state. We are still rebuilding. As I pray that we do not return to our dark past, ethnic leaders, religious leaders, politicians and youths must continue to build on the gains we have garnered thus far.
“We must deepen this peace we enjoy. We must eschew tribal hatred and bitter politics of ethnic supremacy especially in this political period -whether on social media or village assemblies. Royal fathers and parents should make it a point of duty to be standard bearers of ethnic tolerance and unity.
“May Delta State, Niger Delta and Nigeria continue to know peace as we celebrate peace all over the world”, it added.