- Delta's former governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, said he was the first government official to visit the creeks and discuss with Tompolo
- Uduaghan said the insecurity in the Niger Delta region does not need only military enforcement
- According to him, we must have an enforcement body that includes the community; especially the youths since they know the terrain
The former governor of Delta state, Emmanuel Uduaghan, has said the military, as an enforcement organisation, was not a permanent solution to the problems in the Niger Delta as it was not very familiar with the terrain.
Uduaghan, who spoke with selected journalists including NAIJ.com in Lagos, explained that engagement and effective laws that affect the people of the region were necessary to bring lasting peace.
The former governor said his advice was as a result of his experience as governor for eight years handling affairs in Delta state especially at the height of militancy. He recalled that as the secretary to the Delta state government and later governor, he was the first official to personally visit the creeks.
He said as governor, he also made some attempts to engage Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, in peace talks while also absorbing some ex-militants to reach out to their colleagues in the creeks. He revealed how he also got traditional and religious leaders to assist in quelling security issues in the state adding that this paid off.
“I was the first state government official to enter into creeks to meet ex-militant chief, Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo in the heart of the Niger Delta as SSG to start negotiating peace with him. I did it severally when I was the governor of Delta state. At one of the outings, it was even the soldiers that pointed AK-47 at me when I was coming back.
“Sometimes, I would come back at night from negotiating peace, so I know the place in and out. I have been there in the day and at night, in fact, at one of them, I was sitting on a chair with about 20 of the boys with their guns, they were drinking, and we were there for three hours negotiating peace.
“I know the challenges; let me just say this, what we did and what the government has been doing is having what I call two boxes in managing the problems. So, when the thing is really happening, it requires mobilizing the young people to show them the terrain or to prevent the crisis.
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“For us to move forward, we must have an enforcement body that includes the community; especially the youths in the community, since they know the terrain. It is easier for people in that area to try and carry out enforcement or execute security challenges; it is easier for people in that area to know those who are involved in illegal bunkering.
“There are two parts to it, there is the part of genuine agitation, which has now been mixed with criminality and the criminality seems to have overshadowed the genuine agitation," he explained.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for sustaining the agricultural revolution of the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
Concerning his ambition for the Senate, Uduaghan said he wants to represent Delta South district in 2019 because of his desire to pursue quality legislation that will lead to the end of the crisis in the Niger Delta region.
“I have not declared but I have decided to run. The official declaration is going to be very soon," Uduaghan said while noting that even though he was instrumental to the emergence of the incumbent senator, James Manager, 15 years ago, he withdrew from the race in 2015 to ensure that peace reigned in the state.
“Despite the pressure from the good people of Delta South in 2015, I decided to step down, but looking at the horizon now, the issues that caused the security challenges that made me to shelve my ambition in 2015 are no longer there.”
He argued that he had the capacity for the Senate, adding: “I was commissioner for four years under Chief James Ibori and I was close to him. I knew what he was doing in terms of peace issues. We had the other box of enforcement; that is, using the military, the army, the police, navy, etc.
“One will think that with the two boxes, that would be enough to deal with the problems, but they are still there and re-occurring in different forms, some criminality and some genuine agitation; we still have the Niger Delta Avengers bursting pipelines; sometimes, we have those hijacking boats and sometimes ethnic quarrels.
“To deal with it, we need the local people to be involved in the security arrangement and that will require legislation. The waterway security committee I put up for instance, there is no law backing it up, so we need to put up laws that will help us in moving forward in solving the Niger Delta crisis.”
Uduaghan noted that there were lots of projects abandoned in the Niger Delta, and that specific laws were needed to revamp these projects.
He lamented that since the crises in the Niger Delta, nobody has been prosecuted or brought to book.
“Nobody has been prosecuted so far. First of all, you cannot catch them and the people that are supposed to catch them don’t know how to catch them. I am going there to put up an enforcement body of people who know them and can get them and take them to court. If we are not serious of law and order in the Niger Delta, we will continue to have crisis.
“A lawmaker is to make law and that will be my cardinal point. Also, there is the issue of attracting things to your area. There are very few people in the National Assembly that I don’t know. I have the capacity to attract things to my area more than anybody on the field today.
“Also, Nigeria has invested in me. Being in government for 16 years is a lot of investment. I think I should pay back by going to serve at the national level,” he explained.
NAIJ.com earlier reported that Emmanuel Uduaghan recently said he wouldn't disappoint his constituency and would not be one of those senators who brings and shares Keke NAPEP once a year.
Uduaghan, who made this statement when Delta South Grassroots Movement, paid him a solidarity visit, said he would not go into the Senate to sleep and be unproductive.
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