By Patrick Ochoga
The Niger Delta ex-militant generals and commanders in Edo State yesterday declared that they will stand by the leadership of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), which endorsed the APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, for the February 14 election.
They said that the gesture by MEND should not be taken as a joke as Buhari’s candidacy is in line with the expectation of millions of citizens of the country for positive change and development, particularly the development of the oil rich region.
Ex-General Ogidigba Godstime made the position of the group known in an interview with newsmen in Benin, Edo State capital.
He stated that the ex-agitators have implicit confidence in the ability of the APC Presidential candidate Gen. Buhari is capable to address all the salient issues to bring about improved standard of living and due attention to the various communities, states and the South-South region.
The group carpeted President Jonathan for obvious failure to address the myriads of problems staring the region in the face.
According to him, “In recent publications in the dailies, you see MEND endorse Buhari, people thought it is a joke; it is not. The fact remains that we need somebody that can address the salient issues that affect the Niger Delta region. Our brother has failed in those issues; our brother has failed to take us away from poverty, our brother has failed to bring development to the Niger Delta region.”
He added, “Just take a look at most of the Niger Delta communities; they still remain where they are in spite of the fact that we have one of our own at the top, at the helm of affairs, not positive has changed in the region.”
“Some of us are asking why; we cannot at a time like this think this is my brother or this one is a Christian, this one is Moslem. No, our interest as agitators, as ex-militants is Nigeria and her unity, the progress of Nigeria, the development of Nigeria. Somebody who can stand and develop our region that should be our interest and that is our interest.” he said.
“It is true that President Goodluck Jonathan is from the South-South region, he is our brother but the problem is this; he came to meet the amnesty programme and since then he has not been able to improve on it, which means the amnesty programme still stopped where the late Musa Yar’Adua left.”
“What we are saying is that he should improve on it. He should go to the agreement and implement all the things that were written in black and white; they should not cover. They should not say because you are the overall leader, one this or that superior leader had spoken to him and for that reason he will look down on the other leaders. No, a tree cannot make a forest.
Ogidigba also admitted that despite the challenges confronting the region, the amnesty programme has brought relief in the socio-political and economic wellbeing of people of the area and called for increased slots to the ex-agitators to avert an impending trouble ahead over the confusion the shoddy implementation exercise has caused between the leaders, commanders and the followers.