22 August, 2011, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – The people of Bayelsa state yesterday rolled out the drums to celebrate the second anniversary of the federal government amnesty for repentant militants with Governor Timipre Sylva saying there was no justification for any group in the Niger Delta to again resort to armed struggle against the government.
The state was known for having the largest number of militant camps at the height of the youth armed struggle against the Nigerian state’s perceived injustice meted to the oil and gas rich but underdeveloped region.
However the state government was able to rein in its rampaging militants through the famous December 2008 peace treaty brokered by the chairman of the state Niger Delta Peace and Reconciliation Committee, Chief James Jephath which culminated in all the militant camps agreeing to cease further hostilities against the oil facilities before the federal government came up with its amnesty programme.
Speaking at a colourful event held at the Peace Park in the heart of Yenagoa, the state capital which had in attendance renowned ex-warlords such as Gen Boyloaf, Africa, Ogunboss and Pastor Reuben among others, the Governor declared that henceforth, any act of violent agitation from the region would be misunderstood.
The Governor said the Nigerian state had accorded the region the highest level of recognition by allowing it to produce the president of the country.
Describing the region as the most peaceful today, he said its natives would forever remain grateful to the country for having its son at the helm of affairs.
Recalling his first assignment on assumption of office when he traversed the length and breath of the creek to appeal to the militants to embrace peace, he noted with joy that though his effort was misconstrued in some quarters as fraternizing with militants, the state is better off today with the returned of sustained peace.
He said, “Now with our efforts, the region has been considered as an integral part of Nigeria and given the opportunity to produce the president. So we have no excuse to fight because whatever we do will be misunderstood. The country has given us maximum recognition and we should be happy.”
He said the essence of the Peace Day was to remind all the people in the region of the importance of sustaining the existing peace which he said remained the only condition for sustainable development in the country, adding that with the peace in the region, the country’s oil production has increased from below two million barrels to 2.6m barrels per day.
Bayelsa he noted paid dearly to ensure that peace reigned in the region and pleaded with all stakeholders to shun acts capable of disrupting the peace even as he lauded President Goodluck Jonathan for implementing the post amnesty programme for the ex-militants dutifully.
In their remarks, the ex-militant leaders, promised to continue to ensure peace in the region stressing that there was no alternative to peaceful co-existence.
Ogunboss who spoke on behalf of ex militant leaders appealed to all stakeholders to sustain the prevailing peace and urged parents to teach their children the principles of peaceful co-existence.
In the same vein, the Chairman of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee, Chief James Jephath, said the fragile peace in the region must be maintained in order to ensure development in the region.