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.
Governor Uduaghan who gave this assurance Wednesday at the opening ceremony of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly [SNPA] 4th General Conference in Asaba said that the national conference sanctioned by President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has provide avenue for Nigerians to deliberate on issues that will move the nation forward.
He explained that though the 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.
He emphasized: “Let us be hopeful, let us be positive because, the future of Nigeria is bright, Nigeria will not disintegrate in the era of President Goodluck Jonathan,” adding, “no ravaging fire of ethnic nationalism can consume this country.”
The Governor hinted that the Governors of South South and South East geo-political zones were meeting regularly and plans were on for Governors of South West geo-political zone to join the forum for it to become The Southern Nigeria Governors Forum, noting that there was need for such forum because of common economic and other 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, stating, “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.”
Former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who is the leader of the South East delegation to the Conference urged participants and delegations to be ready to state their positions fearlessly, recalling that his minority report in the 1995 Constitutional Conference that recommended six geopolitical conference was condemned then but was 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 who is the 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.
Meanwhile, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has urged Nigerians to always put the unity and oneness of the country before their personal interests.
Governor Uduaghan who stated this Tuesday night at a banquet he held in honour of leaders, delegates and members of the Southern Nigeria Peoples’ Assembly in Asaba said “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”
According to him “there is beauty in diversity, there is honour in diversity, there is unity in diversity. Nigeria must be united in order to move forward”.
Dr. Uduaghan who observed that Delta State despite its initial challenges now has a strong sense of unity and oneness, remarked that this was what the state is exporting to the larger nation.
He enjoined the delegates to deliberate on issues that would ensure that the country remains strong and united in spite of our diverse cultures and traditions.
In his remarks, former minister and presidential candidate, Dr. Olu Falae, who is a Leader of the Southern Nigeria Peoples’ Assembly, commended Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan for the strong sense of unity and oneness that existed in the state.
He assured him that the unity of the country will form the fulcrum of the issues to be discussed at this 4th Meeting of the Assembly and the top issue that the Assembly would take to the National Conference in Abuja.