Rebels of Nigeria’s Niger Delta have decided to support peace, stability and the return of a functioning rule of law to the troubled region as a sign of respect to the country’s newly sworn-in president Goodluck Jonathan who is a son of the oil-rich Delta.
“Now that the person who is at the helm of affairs is one of our own, we have no choice but to support and consolidate on what we started with President Yar’Adua,” a leader of the Ijaw, Youth Council, a Niger Delta ethnic lobbyist, Chris Ekiyor, was quoted by local reporters, at a meeting attended by prominent ex-rebel leaders.
Over 20,000 youths in the oil region had taken up arms to fight the Nigerian government for what they perceived as inhumane exploitation of their land, and injustice of their suffering communities.
The several rebel factions fought the Nigerian government for a fairer share of oil revenues to go to local communities, until an amnesty was put in place in October last year by late Nigerian President, Umaru Yar’Adua.
“There is total peace in the Niger Delta now. The President can go to sleep…he has everybody supporting the process of national unity,” Ekiyor added.
President Jonathan, a native of the Niger Delta had vowed to continue the peace process started by late President Yar’Adua, and had called for the implementation of the training sessions for the former militants.
Part of President Jonathan’s plan would see ex-fighters receive vocational training in several works of life, as well as orientation on various aspects of civil society with a view to changing their perceptions and world outlook, to ease their rehabilitation and eventual re-integration into society.
This vision was put forward by late President Yar’Adua, but his demise, two months after the amnesty was implemented, stalled the peace process of the post amnesty plans such as education and provision of jobs and stipends.
Militants of the Niger Delta until now have fought to expose the exploitation and oppression of the people of the Niger Delta and devastation of the natural environment by the Federal Government of Nigeria and foreign multinational corporations involved in the extraction of oil in the Niger Delta.
Several rebelling factions had been linked to attacks on foreign-owned petroleum companies in Nigeria as part of the Conflict in the Niger Delta, engaging in actions including sabotage, theft, property destruction, guerrilla warfare, and kidnapping.