Niger Delta ex-militant leader, General Para Ekiyes has applauded the recent seven-points demands made by governors of South South and leaders during a recent meeting with federal government delegation in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, reiterating that only successful peacebuilding activities in the region could create an environment supportive of self-sustaining, durable peace, capable of reconciling opponents; prevent conflict from restarting and address underlying structural and societal issues.
General Ekiyes said this while speaking with journalists in Yenagoa, over the weekend, noting that the demands of the governors and leaders of the region in Port Harcourt were long overdue.
He added that the call for repositioning of Niger Delta Development Commission and the Presidential Amnesty Programme, with a view to enhancing community participation in their programmes in line with their core mandates was timely.
He however, cautioned youths in the region against taking laws into their hands by engaging in acts that would be detrimental to their future, saying that youths who constitute the crust of the future generation are also perceived as vital instrument in repositioning the nation’s economy.
General Ekiyes who is a traditional Egbesu priest maintained that though the patriotic commitment to nation building is the responsibility of all citizens, the youths beiing more energetic and purpose driven should always take the centre stage in sustainable peace building initiatives to create a peaceful environment for socio-economic development of the region.
He said the call for the relocation of headquarters of all oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta back to the region, in addition to operating transparent fiscal regime and true federalism, as well as demilitarisation of the entire Niger Delta, were genuine demands from a people whose environment has been degraded as a result of decades of oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities by international oil and gas corporations without any thing to show for, just as he threw his weight behind demand for the 13 per cent derivation to paid directly to oil and gas producing communities.
The Ex-militant leader pointed out that If properly channeled and fully exploited, the innate potentials of the youths can be transformed as a means of developing the Niger Delta region, saying that tje youths of the region remain one of the greatest assets that any nation can have.
“Not only are they legitimately regarded as the future leaders, they are potentially and actually the greatest investment for a country’s development.
“The resilient young women and men are as a vital resource whose future prospects are inextricably tied to that of the region and thecountry at large. The youths are the valued possession of any nation or region. Without them there can be no future. Therefore they should be carried along and involved at the center of any possible reconstruction and development agenda in the region”, General Ekiyes said.
He further stated that the youths serve as a good measure of the extent to which a country can reproduce as well as sustain itself, as according to him, the extent of their vitality, responsible conduct, and roles in society, is positively correlated with the development of their region or country.
“Any nation that denies its youth the necessary enabling environment to participate in nation building process does so at its own risk
“This is because youth are the foundation of any society. Their energies, resourcefulness, character and orientation defines the pace of development and security of a nation.
“Through their creative talents and labour power, a nation makes giant strides in economic development and socio-political attainments. In their dreams and hopes, a nation finds her motivation. On their energies, she builds her strength and purpose. And as a result of their dreams and aspirations, the future of a nation is assured”, he maintained.
By Piriye Kiyaramo