Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The immediate past Senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Magnus Abe, has blamed the insincerity of the political leadership for insecurity being experienced in the Niger Delta region.
Abe stated this yesterday in Port Harcourt at the 2019 Niger Delta CEOs Summit, with the theme: “Economic Revitalisation for Sustainable Development”.
He said: “The scenario I will like to point out, about the issue of insecurity in the Niger Delta, is to say that insecurity in this region started out of the insincerity of the political leadership.
“It is sustained in large part by political leaders who are determined to control the rest of us by all means, fair and foul, and so, they sponsor and protect violent youths to intimidate the rest of us and control the political space.”
Abe expressed shock over a statement credited to the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Nelson Brambraifa, whch he said sought to disparage the Niger Delta CEO’s Summit for political reasons, describing the statement as unfortunate, unfounded and uncalled for.
He added: “I was shocked and stunned beyond words, that the managing director issued that statement because he was not politically comfortable with some of the persons invited here, and I asked myself; how can we develop the Niger Delta with this kind of thinking?
“How can we? I mean if you didn’t want to attend, you could quietly stay away. I was planning to quietly stay away. You could send somebody to represent you. If they asked you for sponsorship or for support and you didn’t want to give the support, it is your prerogative.
“You have been giving money to people in all sorts of empowerment schemes that empower nobody. When I heard that, I said, I will come.
We must all condemn the kind of behavior that will place politics above development.
“It does not help the Niger Delta. We should have the courage to say what is right and insist that the right things is done.”
He, however, urged the CEOs to join and make politics in the region right in order to prevent politicians from using government to mess up their business.
Abe added: “You cannot sit here as CEOs and pretend that what happens in politics will not affect your business, because at the end of the day, if you don’t get the politics right, every other thing will be wrong; because they will simply use the government to mess up your business.
“Let all political leaders commit to the principle that they will not send their followers on any errand or mission that they themselves will not undertake and to which they will not send their own children.
“Politics is one of the root causes of insecurity, if you doubt me, simply look at the level of violence in the Niger Delta on election days and during electioneering campaigns.
“We cannot arm boys, feed them, instigate violence during elections and then after the elections, we begin to talk and pretend that we do not know what is going on or when the society begins to fall apart, we act as if we don’t know what is at the bottom of it.
“If we take violence out of our politics, violence in the society will reduce to manageable proportions. There is violence everywhere in the world, but violence can only spiral out of proportion when it is state-sponsored or state-tolerated.
“Furthermore, if we take violence out of our elections, it will not only solve the problem of insecurity in the Niger Delta but we will enthrone good governance, because it will substantially reduce godfatherism as it will become impossible for any leader to singlehandedly handpick every member of the House of Assembly and
every local government chairman.
“Once the two factors above are under control –if we enforce the law fairly and impartially, and create effective mechanisms for review of state actions because the state some time, can also be a problem to the citizens. We should punish state actors that violate the rules and also punish private actors that seek to compromise the system either by bribery or by deceit.
“Once these three difficult conditions are met, insecurity will fall drastically and investments will grow”.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, called on the CEOs in the Niger Delta to invest in agriculture as an alternative to oil.
According to him, agriculture is the largest employer of labour and
such investment will reduce unemployment and agitations in the Niger Delta.
Also speaking, the facilitator of the summit, Ernest Sorgwe, said the programme was put together yearly to stir up the right conversation among the people of the Niger Delta.
“We do it to stir up the necessary conversation to change the narrative because a place is not made by the name but by the people who live in the environment”, he said.