The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has appealed to the youths and other stakeholders in the Niger Delta Region to maintain the peace in the region in the aftermath of the crises occasioned by the #EndSARS protests.
Senator Akpabio made the plea at a high powered meeting with the youths and other stakeholders in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State at the weekend.
In the Minister’s entourage were the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang, the Federal Commissioner in the Federal Character Commission, Mrs Dorothy Ebong and the Executive Director of Finance and Administration in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Mr Effiong Akwa.
According to Senator Akpabio, the economic importance of the Niger Delta Region as the economic live wire of the nation cannot be overemphasized, maintaining that the development of the region and indeed Nigeria as a whole can only be achieved in an atmosphere of dialogue and peace.
Senator Akpabio noted that peaceful protest is an integral part of democracy and commended President Muhammadu Buhari for acceding to all the demands of the protesting youths and promising comprehensive reforms that would make the Nigerian Police more responsive to the citizenry and addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training.
According to Senator Akpabio, “In any democracy, protest is legitimate and indeed considered an integral part of its value but the right to protest must not be allowed to infringe on the right of others or dovetail into endangering the lives and properties of other citizens. This is what the current protest has unfortunately metamorphosed into.
“SARS brutality which gave rise to the protest is something all well meaning people should condemn and strenuously seek an end to as well as compensation for the victims. On these, all tiers of Governments have agreed starting with the Inspector General of Police who first announced the disbandment of SARS as well as the much publicized speeches of the President who concurred with the ban on SARS and strongly dedicates the line of action towards general Police reforms, hence the five point agenda demanded by the genuine protesters are being addressed sincerely by both the Federal and State Governments.
“Let me commend the State Governors who have set up Judicial Commissions of Enquiry and Restitution which would investigate cases of Police brutality and take steps to make restitutions to victims and families who had suffered such unfortunate fate across the nation.
“The widespread lootings, arsons, and other shades of violence in some States in the Niger Delta remain a source of concern. The scale of destruction which pervaded Uyo, Port Harcourt, Benin and other cities so far calls for vigilance on the part of residents in the Region and a rededication of the State Governments to the responsibility of protection of lives and properties,” he said.
He urged the youths of the Niger Delta Region to continue to support the administration of President Buhari to bring development to the region.
Senator Akpabio appealed to the youths of the Niger Delta Region to embrace dialogue in addressing any grievances as the administration of President Buhari implements far reaching reforms to reposition the region for infrastructural development.
Senator Akpabio and his entourage also visited the State secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) where hoodlums had vandalized and donated some money for the renovation and purchase of computers and generators which were carted away by the vandals.
AKPABIO, ITA ENANG INSPECT VANDALIZED PARTY OFFICES, OFFER SUCCOUR
Niger Delta Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio visited the Akwa In All Progressive Congress, APC Party’s secretariat to inspect the level of devastation and damage inflicted Thursday night by thugs and hooligans on the building and furniture and other internal fittings at the Party’s offices.
In the company of the Minister were Senator Ita Solomon Enang, SSA to the President on Niger Delta Affairs; Pastor Efiong Akwa, ED ( Finance & Administration) NDDC; Mr Etekamba Umoren, Chief of Staff to the Minister, Arc Ubokutom Nya, APC Leader, Essien Udim LGA.
They were received by the Acting State Chairman, Dr. Ita Udosen; State Secretary, Mr Austin Ekanem, Organizing Secretary, Hon. Oboh and Party youth Leader, Steve Ntukekpo and several State Officers of the Party.
The minister and his entourage walked around the complex and climbed into the offices, stepping on shards of glass doors and windows. Outside, the minister saw broken windows and doors. As he took the first flight of stairs to the first floor, the minister exclaimed: ‘’that’s a bullet hole’’, pointing to a damaged portion of the window at the first staircase landing. The thugs had broken the front glass door and the iron barricade to gain entry into the building.
Senator Akpabio went through the offices one by one, taking in the destruction, asking questions and shaking his head in shock and disbelief. All the offices were ransacked, doors broken drawers emptied and computers and office equipment carted away. ‘’This is a selected target. It couldn’t be a random attack’’, Secretary Austin Ekanem uttered in anguish.
After the tour, a visibly solemn and emotional minister asked: ‘’Chairman, can we manage and meet somewhere?’’ Quickly, a room was cleared and the minister, his entourage and the SWC huddled together after which they emerged to address the waiting party members and press.
Senator Akpabio thanked the Party leaders and members for their stoicism in the face of such unbelievable attacks on their offices. In particular, he thanked APC youths ‘’for not being too provoked to retaliate the damage to their Party’s offices’’.
He acknowledged that the damage is huge and extensive and announced that he was moving to visit other buildings and businesses in town that also came under attacks. He traced the genesis of the crisis and thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for meeting the demands of the protesters, but regretted the unfortunate turn of events.
“Across the nation the damage is very extensive and the loss of lives is colossal’’, Senator Akpabio said in a voice laden with emotion. There will be restitution for the losses, he added. The minister went called for peace in the state and the Niger Delta region, adding ‘’any crisis in the Niger Delta affects the national economy negatively’’.
After the minister’s speech, Dr. Udosen announced that the minister had made the following donations to help the Party cope with the challenges of the moment:
i). money to clear arrears of staff salaries and allowances for Party officials till December 2020
ii). Money to replace stolen generator
iii). Money to replace stolen computers and some office furniture/equipment
In his brief remarks, Senator Ita Enang condoled Party members on the loss and thanked God that no life was lost. He recalled his various assistance to the Party and announced a donation of N500,000 to further assist in replacing the stolen items and repairing the damaged portions of the offices.