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Militants Destroying S-south, Says Amaechi - Politics - Nairaland

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Militants Destroying S-south, Says Amaechi by Echidime(m): 11:23am On Aug 08, 2008
[size=8pt]Militants destroying S-South, says Amaechi [color=#770077][/color]
Written by Emma Amaize
Friday, 08 August 2008
GOVERNOR Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State says the Niger Delta struggle, as it is presently being prosecuted, is not ideological and the militants are breaking the laws of the country by carrying arms.
Governor Amaechi who delivered the keynote addresss at the two-day South-South Legislative Retreat on Constitution Review, 2008, organised by Vanguard Newspapers suggested that the way forward was for the Federal Government to use force to disarm the militants since they are criminals, after which they would be socially rehabilitated.

Pointing out that he does not care whose ox is gored as long as he has spoken the truth, the governor stated that he had over N100 billion of Rivers State funds resting in the bank which he could not use to provide water, roads, electricity and other amenities for the people because of the activities of militants, who have scared investors and contractors away from the state.

His address: “The first aspect of my speech is what most of us are here gathered for: 'Is this country fair to the Niger Delta people? Have we been fairly treated? As we look at the laws, I have some of the laws that I have indicated, which also, you can find in the programme. I won't dwell much on it because that is why we are here. If you look at the National Inland Waterways Act, it has completely marginalised our people.

The Act even makes it possible for the Federal Government to even control the creeks and I am told, by the military officers in Rivers State, that we have about 3,000 creeks in Rivers State. It means that the 3,000 creeks in Rivers State all belong to the Federal Government. The implication, therefore, is that even if the Rivers man wants to collect sand, he has to go and get licence from the Federal Government.

There is the Territorial Water Act, that one again implies, , before, our people can go up to the ocean to fish, now you cannot, it is again created for the rich, for those who own trawlers from Rivers State, Bayelsa State to go to the high sea, fish and export and our people who used to go that way to fish can no longer fish. We are marginalised in that regard.

"There is another law that is called the Exclusive Economic Zone Act. It is structured in the same way for which you have to get licence to be able to exploit natural resources, including oil. The Petroleum Act, all of us know what it is. In the 1963 Constitution, we used to have 50 per cent derivation, now we are struggling with 13 per cent even though the constitution says not less than 13 per cent. We don’t need constitution amendment to do that.

The constitution simply says not less than, it means you can get up to 70 per cent. Now, that is skewed against us. The Land Use Act is the worse even though I am a beneficiary as a trustee as a governor, but, it should not be so, our people should be allowed to own their land and they sell it as much as they want, land is capital.

The same thing you see in the Oil Minerals Act, the Oil Pipeline Act, and the Oil Terminal Dues Act. In fact, the Oil Terminal Dues Act relocated the people of Finima from where they were to where they are now with disregard to our shrine. Our grandfathers that were buried on that soil and all that, and how much was paid?

It is by virtue of one of these Acts that the Federal Government will pay you N2,000 maximum for coconut tree and you know that if you harvest that coconut tree for one year, you will get more than N50,000 but for the Federal Government to uproot that coconut tree, they will pay you N2, 000 and they have denied you your source of livelihood for the whole year. I will not bore you with all these; all of you know all that, which is why we are here.

“Let me take you to the most important aspect to me. The most important aspect is, we are gathered here, Federal Government is visiting us with injustice. Should we also visit ourselves with injustice? Should we? We are, we do and we are visiting ourselves with injustice. And I can tell you how we are doing that.

“The first thing to say is that in Baghdad, you know what the war is about. Don’t you? It is a religious war between the Shiites and the Sunnis. In Rivers State, in Bayelsa and other parts of the Niger Delta, who is fighting whom, what is the war about?

What is the shooting about? The kidnap cases that are taking place are against whom? When you came into Port Harcourt, you saw it as a graveyard. This is not the old Port Harcourt that we used to have. There are three principal economic centres in Nigeria: Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

We are by ourselves killing our own economic centre. In the comity of nations, we cannot compete as we should because the nerve centre of our economic activities is beginning to disappear. At the same time, Lagos is beginning to become the hub of oil activities in Nigeria because we are on our own asking Lagos to assume the position of being the oil capital of Nigeria and we call it militancy and I call it criminality.

"The way to define criminality is that anybody who breaks the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a criminal. The law says we shall not bear arms and so, anybody who bears arms has committed a crime and so, they are all criminals.

You may have been hearing gunshots, as you entered, who are the people being killed — the Niger Delta people. Julius Berger is moving out. They are leaving behind 4,500 Niger Delta people who work with them.

Those people will be thrown into the unemployment market. Michelin has left. All their staff from the Niger Delta are all unemployed and the economy is grinding to a halt and we are saying that is the struggle….

Militants' struggle not ideological

"The struggle for now, because it does not exist, because a struggle is ideological and there is no ideological bent to the struggle we are seeing.

Those who speak for us are no longer people like Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte (rtd.), Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. It is people like Ateke Tom that are our spokesmen. Does that mean that we have no graduate? Ateke Tom does not know how to speak English. So, if our leaders are Ateke and the rest and they speak on our behalf, imagine the quality of the people that we have produced. That is the indication.

"The first principle is self survival, if Nigeria has rejected me, should I reject myself? I will therefore fight not only for my right but for my existence and I ask, When they say our boys, whose boys? I ask, in whose interest? I have said before that while the oil economy is blowing away to Lagos, we are growing an economy based on criminality.

This economy based on criminality is evolving itself in so many spheres of life. Politicians are benefiting from it because they go to Abuja and say give us appointments and contracts, our boys will stop shooting, have they stopped shooting?

There are those who are forming NGOs, saying they want to organise one peace conference on the Niger Delta, oil movement from the Niger Delta, prayer conference on the Niger Delta. They go round looking for funds for these conferences and empty some of them into their pockets.

That is the economy we are growing. It will not affect those of us who are governors, we are allowed to take our allowances but no matter whom you are and what you do, as a governor, before you are the people. We weep for you, we talk among ourselves.

Ateke Tom, Soboma George, Asari-Dokubo not our leaders

"We ask ourselves one basic question: what are we voted here to do, what is our responsibility? Our responsibility is to ensure that the people who voted to put us here benefit from the resources we get from the Federal Government and ensure that we drive our economy to compete with other parts of the country but they are not allowing us to do that, they are not.

And when we hear people like Ateke Tom speak, the newspapers publish it. 50 per cent of the newspapers in this country belong to the Niger Delta and they present Ateke, Soboma George, Dokubo-Asari as our leaders, our spokesmen, no, the issues are beyond that.

The issue is that our leaders must move from here to Abuja for dialogue while we maintain this economy to be able to employ our people. I give you a typical example: I went to America, there is a company that wants to come to Rivers State to establish a plant and they said guarantee me security, which is what they are asking for.

They won’t come because I cannot guarantee security. Go to our sea ports, they are dead. What makes economic activities to move, they are seaports, airport and infrastructure, they are dying. Okay, how many of you could go out when you came to have party, Port Harcourt used to be a bubbling city but it is dying, if not dead. Our people will very soon begin to eat themselves. We will soon be turn into cannibals.

"But the truth is that when it (militancy) started, nobody thought it will get to this point. It started at traditional rulers trying to struggle among themselves. Politicians wanted to win positions and they started to accumulate weapons, they began to groom these boys as protective measures to put themselves in office.

Today, they are now like the Frankenstein monsters, may be, those politicians are afraid to come home, the new homes are now Abuja and Lagos, even our people are moving to Abuja and Lagos. And those who are moving are not the poor, the poor cannot afford houses in Abuja and Lagos, I hope you know that, it is the rich. Probably, when I finish, I move to Abuja .

"We must demand from our leaders — accountability, they must account not for the funds alone, they must account for what they have turned our children into, they must tell us why the next man’s life is not as important as their own life, they must, when they started it, it was just simple local government area matter, chairman of council that they were struggling for and to publicly say that we have won an election, today, those local governments are not even in their hands anymore, today, they cannot go home, today, governors are demanding for more security in their convoys, today, legislators are demanding for more security from their governors, today, commissioners are demanding for security.

Don’t forget, I was the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, I used to drive myself, it was common knowledge, I used to go to parties, I used to visit people in their houses, now, I am not afraid to visit people in their houses because I come with enough security but my fear is that if I leave your house, you will be kidnapped.

And people now accuse me of not being as accessible as I used to be when I was a Speaker but they don’t know I am saving them because I could come if I want to come no matter how tough it is with enough security to escort me to your house and I will sit and drink, when I go, I go with the same armed men, you are left alone to the mercy of God and if you are not a good Christian, you are not praying well, then too bad.

Force needed to deal with militancy

"That is where I differ; I say my mind, anywhere I go to, worse can happen. And I will tell you the truth, these boys require force. You know why they require force, they are not ideological. If the process today is ideological, count me in.

I will bring out the resources of the Rivers State government to back an ideological struggle because you cannot continue to cheat us, remove our resources away and take it outside there and we are suffering.

"But I cannot back a criminal entity where people sit down and kidnap and do oil bunkering to the detriment of our economy and you say we will negotiate, I am not part of the negotiation. I have said to the world, until we enforce the law, to make it difficult for these criminals to know that they cannot kidnap anybody and get away with it, the kidnapping will continue.

I have said to everybody that want to listen that what we are dealing with is poverty and unemployment, these boys are poor, these boys are poor and unemployed and no matter how much employment you bring today, they are not willing to participate in any employment.

You know why, because kidnapping will bring 500 times the value of the money you will pay them as salary. As governor, I am paid N250,000. Let us assume that you even pay Ateke N250,000 per month, will he come out?

Because if he kidnaps one white man, he will make N10 million. If he kidnaps 10, ten multiplied by ten, he is a multi-millionaire, so the major crisis we have is that we need value re-orientation in the Niger Delta for the people to value one naira. N250,000 is no longer money.

"When I was a Speaker, before I became Governor, I used to see some of them, they tell me these are the people who are into this shooting and when they come, they carry young girls, they wear these jeans with half of their buttocks showing and they come with Jeeps and imagine if N250,000 can buy them Jeeps.

It cannot, we must enforce the law, we must get the police and the security agencies to visit them where they are, after that, we must do value orientation. Sam Amuka, Uncle Sam, must come back home and organise more of these conferences, not for us, but for the boys so that they will know the value of money.

"Then, we the governors, at that point, we have a responsibility. The responsibility we have is social rehabilitation.

We must provide an opportunity for them to be reintegrated into the society and after the reintegration, we must provide opportunity for them to begin to use their hands to employ themselves, we have such opportunities, we have micro-finance credits all over, we have funds to back it, this is the moment that Niger Delta is given more money, more money, when I say more money, not because of Niger-Delta alone but because there more money accruing to the Federal Government and if you ask us, what are we utilizsing it for?

How militants stall S-South progress

"As a governor, I have plans of what I want to do, but, as I am talking to you, I cannot execute those things because I have security threats. I have over a N100 billion resting in the bank, resting.

It is not good economy that it is resting when there is unavailability of infrastructure, I should use that money to provide water for my people, provide roads, provide hospital but nobody wants to build. I give you a quick example, I asked a company to go and build a secondary school for N4.3 billion in Buguma, they refused to go.

There is another community in Rivers State, almost gone, I awarded a contract of over N2 billion to a company to go and reclaim the place but the contractor say to pass Bonny to get to Andoni, he needs to pay some boys in their camps and he has been negotiating with them for the past two months to get to the place in Andoni. But we cannot move anywhere even though contractors have been paid to do the jobs.

Okay, somebody wrote to me that we are owing him and I told the person that we will pay him what we are not owing them, but, we cannot move because the boys are all over there with their guns, not waiting for the Federal Government, not waiting for other people from other parts of the world, but, waiting for us and waiting for our development."
Re: Militants Destroying S-south, Says Amaechi by ojubi(m): 7:54pm On Aug 10, 2008
I wonder what GOV. AMECHI is trying to achive by calling his kins men criminals, and asking for a military option. he does not relly understand how porthacourt residents fells when ever there is choas in the land, the innocents lives and properties that are always lost. He shuld stop geting this boys opset for the sake of the masses. is it b/c he is protected in govt. house? he shd remember that the likes of ODILI &SEKIBO where once protedted, but are today running away from the havoc they ve cus. he shd be awere that 8 years will soon run out and HE will become ODINARY AMECHI.
Re: Militants Destroying S-south, Says Amaechi by df2006: 8:46pm On Aug 12, 2008
he is telling the truth, without order, there cannot be progress, we cannot be held in bondage by a group of area boys cos that,s what most of them are. the niger delta cannot broke away, it will always be in nigeria, how can it develope when we cannot guarantee security, even when you develope the place, if you don,t bring this illiterates to order they will continue, cos they are making money, and slowly killing the region, majority of them are just using the issue to enrich themselves, it has to stop, for real negotiations to start, you all are seeing what is happening between georgia and russia. war is disasterous.
Re: Militants Destroying S-south, Says Amaechi by hellypelly(f): 3:58pm On Aug 13, 2008

I wonder what GOV. AMECHI is trying to achive by calling his kins men criminals, and asking for a military option. he does not relly understand how porthacourt residents fells when ever there is choas in the land, the innocents lives and properties that are always lost. He shuld stop geting this boys opset for the sake of the masses. is it b/c he is protected in govt. house? he should remember that the likes of ODILI &SEKIBO where once protedted, but are today running away from the havoc they ve cus. he should be awere that 8 years will soon run out and HE will become ODINARY AMECHI.

which other words can be used? he calls them what they are, rogues, thieves, bandits, U name it, they r!!even though I believe he is on on the activities, he used the right word choice

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