In Nigeria, an advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan on the volatile Niger Delta region has resigned.
Nigeria’s presidency announced Thursday that Timi Alaibe resigned because he wants to run for governor of Bayelsa State, the home state of President Jonathan.
Alaibe had been in charge of running the federal government’s amnesty program for militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
Professor Kabiru Mato, chair of the political science department at University of Abuja, told VOA he’s not surprised by Alaibe’s decision given the nature of politics in the Niger Delta region.
“The bottom line is that Timi Alaibe is one of those very few people who were anointed to take over power after the former governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, would have left office. But, due to one or two reasons and out of the nation’s political configuration, Timi Alaibe could not take over, and, after the removal of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, it was Goodluck Jonathan that became the governor of Bayelsa State,” he said.
Militants wearing black masks, military fatigues and carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers patrol the creeks of the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, 24 Feb 2006
Mato said the federal government’s amnesty program, which Alaibe was charged with implementing and under which thousands of militants in the Niger Delta gave up their weapons, will still go on.
“Any reputable Nigerian that is honest and has the required integrity to mediate between the government and the militants has the capacity to serve as advisor on amnesty,” Mato said.
Mato said the real reason that Alaibe wants to run for governor of Bayelsa State is because of the political rift between current Bayelsa State Governor Timipriye Sylva and President Jonathan.
“Political observers in Nigeria today suggest that there is no love lost between President Goodluck Jonathan and the governor of his home state Timipriye Sylva. Secondly, we all hear and we all read on the pages of newspapers that the two are not on good terms,” Mato said.
Mato also said the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) hierarchy may not be happy about the way Bayelsa State is being run under current Governor Sylva.
Niger Delta militants said they have been agitating for a more equitable distribution of the region’s oil wealth.
Many of the militants are said to be from Bayelsa State and Alaibe has said that he wants to be governor to do something about the region’s underdevelopment and unemployment and, hopefully, help curb militancy in the region.
“The fundamental problem, I think with militancy has to do with the very social structure under which Nigeria operates. There’s endemic poverty, there’s absence of basic social infrastructure, education, roads, electricity power supply, health, etc. And, I do hope that, by the time Timi Alaibe is eventually able to wrest power from the incumbent governor, he will be able to address the pitfalls that we have in the (Bayelsa) state,” Mato said.