President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday got unprecedented support from a strategic stakeholder in the Nigeria project when the entire leadership of ex- militants in the Niger Delta region told him to count on their support as he pilots the affairs of state.After exhaustive interaction in Abuja to discuss and agree on the modalities for the implementation of the Amnesty programme, the group leaders of about 100 including militant kingpins like Ateke Tom, Chief Government Ekpemupulo, Faro Dagogo, Chief Ebikabowei Victor Ben, Boyloaf, among others declared, “he is one of our own; we have no choice but to back him”.
The spokesman of the ex-militants, who preferred to be called freedom fighters and who is also the President of Ijaw Youth Council, Dr. Chris Ekiyor said that the leadership of the militants has resolved to be committed to the amnesty programme.
The interaction, which was at the instance of the Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe saw the ex- militants agreeing to abide by the non-violence principle training that would be given to them in the rehabilitation camps.
They also commended Jonathan for appointing Alaibe as his Adviser on Niger Delta, saying that his choice was timely because of his experience and commitment to the Niger Delta struggle.
Ekiyor noted that the core of the demands of the militants rests in sustainable development which the government through the Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta has agreed to implement.
Also speaking at the interaction, Alaibe expressed the enthusiasm of President Jonathan to the implementation of the amnesty programme, adding that the interaction was organised to ensure a seamless implementation of the programmes.
According to him, some modalities to ensure a hitch-free camping of the ex- militants have been agreed upon like the non- carriage of weapon of any type into the camp.
When asked to explain why the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND continues to send threat messages, the spokesman of the militants said that who is who in the Niger Delta were at the interactive session and that anybody using the name of the organisation should be investigated.
He said that the index of peace in the region could be measured by the quantum of oil coming out from there as well as the fact that even foreigners are seen going about their normal businesses.
In a determined move to give impetus to the amnesty programme, one of the most significant achievements of late President Umaru Yar Adua, President Jonathan directed that all matters relating to the implementation of the programme be domiciled in the office of the Presidential Adviser.
Until now, the implementation of the programme had suffered a serious setback following the illhealth of the late President and the dissolution of the former federal cabinet.