Monday, November 17, 2014 10:26 pm
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday denied accusations that he has taken side with his Ijaw kinsmen over the postponement of the commissioning of the $16 billion industrial gas plant located in Ogidigben, Delta State last Friday.
The commissioning of the multi-billion dollars gas plant was postponed due to threats by some Ijaw groups led by ex-militant, Government Emekpulo, popularly known as Tompolo to disrupt the ceremony.
The group had complained about the naming of the plant after Ogidigben, a settlement belonging to their Itsekiri neighbours as they argued that part of the land the gas facility is to be located on belonged to Gbaramatu, an Ijaw settlement.
They therefore asked that the name of the plant should indicate that it is located on the two communities.
In addition, they also asked the government to enter into negotiations with owners of the land on the Ijaw side for compensation.
However, following the threat by the Ijaw groups, the commissioning of the plant which was to be done by the President last Friday was postponed, an action which many prominent Itsekiri leaders have interpreted as Jonathan’s support for his kinsmen and their demands.
The President who said he regretted the very unnecessary controversy and acrimony that has arisen over the postponement of the ground-breaking ceremony of the gas plant, in a statement on Monday by Reuben Abati, his special adviser on media and publicity said he “is deeply saddened by the very unjust, uncharitable and unwarranted accusations of nepotism and partisanship that have been made against him in the wake of the postponement.”
“The President is particularly dismayed by the unseemly resort to the abusive denigration of his personal integrity and the whipping up of divisive ethnic sentiments by parties to the totally needless communal disagreement that resulted in the decision to reschedule the ground-breaking event.
“It should be apparent to all Nigerians by now that while President Jonathan may be affiliated to the Ijaw ethnic group by birth, he knows fully well that he was elected President of all Nigerians and has always shown by word and deed that he will always uphold the oath he swore on assumption of office to protect and promote the interests of all citizens with justice, equity and fairness to all as his guiding principles.
“The elders, community leaders and parties to the dispute over the location and ground-breaking event for the Gas Industrial Revolution Park who have resorted to threats and accusations of partisanship against the President in press conferences and paid adverts in newspapers are therefore being most unfair to him and doing a great disservice to continuing efforts to forge greater national unity and peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians.
“We assure all concerned persons that as the leader of the nation, President Jonathan is not, and cannot be on the side of any party to the avoidable dispute over the location and ownership of the site of the Gas Revolution Industrial Park.
“The project itself was conceived for the benefit of all Nigerians, not just Itsekiris, Ijaws, Urhobos or other ethnic groups in its immediate environment.
“In terms of employment opportunities, it is projected that the Gas Industrial Revolution Park will ultimately create up to three million jobs for Nigerians in its catchment area and other parts of the country.
“All the people of Delta State and Nigerians living in other parts of the country will also benefit greatly from the project by way of improved power supply and other ancillary products such as fertilizers, petrochemicals and more raw materials to boost local industrial production.
“President Jonathan therefore urges all parties to the communal dispute over the location and ownership of the site of the Gas Industrial Revolution Park to cooperate fully with ongoing efforts by the Federal Government and the Delta State government to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues so that the project can proceed apace for the benefit of local communities, all Nigerians and investors.
“For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, the postponement of the ground-breaking ceremony for the project earlier scheduled for last Friday was not in furtherance of any anti-Itsekiri agenda.
“Rather, it was borne out of the clear need to give all concerned parties more time to achieve the communal peace, understanding and harmony that will greatly facilitate the project’s speedy actualization for the benefit of Itsekiris, Ijaws, Urhobos, Ibos, Isokos and all other Nigerians.
“In the greater interest of the nation, President Jonathan expects the respected elders and leaders of the concerned communities to heed the pleas of Federal and state government mediators and expeditiously resolve their differences for the good of all and the progress of the country.
“He looks forward to coming to perform the ground-breaking ceremony for the Gas Industrial Revolution Park very soon in conditions of communal peace, unity and harmony,” the President said in the statement.