BENIN – FORMER Vice – Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof. Andrew Onokerhoraye has called on the Federal government to seize the opportunity offered by the post- amnesty programme to commence the immediate development of the Niger Delta region.
He said that the government may not be able to curtail another round of violence by militants from the region if nothing was done to commence the development of the region.
“If the militants, after surrounding their arms, disengaged and wait endlessly with the government doing nothing to set the pace of developing the region, we may be giving room for the militants to come up again”, he said.
Prof. Onokerhoraye, who is also the Executive Director of the Centre for Population and Environmental Development (CPED), a Benin based Non-Governmental Organization, made the call yesterday in Benin at the opening ceremony of a two day conference titled, “Confronting the Challenges of Development, Environmental Management and Peace Building in the Niger Delta Beyond the Amnesty, organized by the CPED.
“We believe that with the post-amnesty programme on the way, the government can now initiate programmes of development in the Niger Delta. The post-amnesty period is the time for the government to key in and having asked the youths to give them enough time since they cannot develop the area in an atmosphere of violence and they have responded by embracing the amnesty program, they should act now.”
“You are training the youths, which is good, so that they can take up employment, the whole challenge of the Niger Delta is not training the youths so that they can take up employment, it is the totality of the development of the region of which over 99 percent of the inhabitants are not members of the youth group.”
“There is no water in the area, no roads, no medical care etc, so there are so many things wrong in the area. Sending the youths to Australia and different countries for training is not the basic purpose of the amnesty. We believe that the government should sit down now that peace has been restored in the region, take appropriate steps to provide the basis for the development of the region and regard the area as an area that deserves immediate attention.”
Scholars from Nigerian Universities and abroad and NGOs are expected to brain storm on the theme of the conference and proffers solution on how the government can take the initiative of confronting the problems of the region during the two day conference.