Posted by News Express | 13 February 2014 | 2,797 times
Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has assured Nigerians that the country would not disintegrate in spite of the challenges and ravaging fire of ethnic nationalism in the country.
He gave the assurance yesterday at the opening ceremony of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) 4th General Conference in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
Uduaghan noted that the National Conference being organised by President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has provided an avenue for Nigerians to deliberate on issues that will move the nation forward.
He explained that though Jonathan’s administration was beset by series of challenges, the President has handled these challenges with maturity and sincerity.
He observed that one of such challenges was the issue of Boko Haram, and emphasized that the activities of Boko Haram has been reduced and there are signs that the militant group will see reasons to embrace peaceful co-existence in the country.
He disclosed that: “The Jonathan’s administration has done a lot to improve the nation’s economy and engendered a lot of growth and foreign direct investments and interest”, stressing that the benefits to the masses will take some time to trickle down to them.
Dr. Uduaghan commended the people of Southern Nigeria for ‘talking’ noting that those who are talking often do not engage in violence.
“President Jonathan is providing a platform for us to discuss with the national conference and we are free to say anything in this world except the disintegration of Nigeria and when we discuss, issues are resolved,” the Governor said, adding that the people of Southern Nigeria should be prepared to make their points known during the conference.
“Let us be hopeful,” Uduaghan pleaded. “Let us be positive because the future of Nigeria is bright, Nigeria will not disintegrate in the era of President Goodluck Jonathan. No ravaging fire of ethnic nationalism can consume this country.”
He disclosed that Governors of South South and South East geo-political zones have been meeting regularly and that plans are on for Governors of South West geo-political zone to join the forum for it to become The Southern Nigeria Governors Forum. Uduaghan noted that there is need for such a forum because of common economic and social issues affecting the region.
He observed that if Deltans can live in peace despite their ethnic differences, Nigerians can live in peace and work for the growth of the country.
The Chairman of the SNPA and leader of the South-South delegation to the meeting, Pa Edwin Clark, said that convening the meeting of the people of Southern Nigeria was very important for the people of the region to speak with one voice. “Nigeria belongs to all of us, we must show respect for all of us, we are part of this country, we have equal right in this country, fight for your right, protect your right,” he stated.
Former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, leader of the South-East delegation to the conference, urged participants to be ready to state their positions fearlessly. He recalled that his minority report during the 1995 Constitutional Conference that recommended the six geo-political zone structure was condemned then but is being operated now.
Ekwueme expressed the hope that the Asaba conference would foster greater unity in Southern Nigeria and the larger Nigerian nation at the end of the day.
On his part, Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, leader of the South-West delegation to the conference, called on the federal government to amend the provision that required ratification of the conference decisions by 75 per cent majority to two-third majority and guard against a situation whereby minority would want to override the majority interests.
Chief Francis William, who delivered a lecture at the ceremony, said: “President Jonathan has the right to contest for the presidential position in 2015” and called for regional cooperation.
Governor Uduaghan had on Tuesday night at a banquet he held in honour of leaders, delegates and members of the SNPA, urged Nigerians to always put the unity and oneness of the country before their personal interests. “In this challenging times that we are in, we have to always lay emphasis on the spirit of oneness and unity of the country which bind us,” he had stated, adding: “There is beauty in diversity, there is honour in diversity, there is unity in diversity. Nigeria must be united in order to move forward.”
In his remarks, former minister and presidential candidate, Dr. Olu Falae, a leader of the SNPA, commended Governor Uduaghan for the strong sense of unity and oneness that exists in the state.
He assured him that the unity of the country would form the fulcrum of the issues to be discussed at the SNPA Asaba conference and the top issue that the Assembly would take to the National Conference in Abuja.
•Photo shows Governor Uduaghan.
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