News / Africa

Late Nigerian President Remembered for Niger Delta Amnesty

Nigerians mourning the death of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua say one of his biggest accomplishments was negotiating an amnesty for gunmen in the oil-rich Niger Delta. VOA West Africa Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on how people in the Delta are remembering the late president, who died Wednesday at the age of 58.

Fighting in the Niger Delta was one of the biggest challenges confronting President Yar'Adua when he took office in 2007. Kidnapping and sabotage in the region were contributing to record low Nigerian oil exports.

But instead of sending in more troops as previous administrations had done, President Yar'Adua negotiated an amnesty deal with thousands of gunmen who laid down their weapons in exchange for a monthly stipend and promises of job opportunities.

"This amnesty that he carried out, that he approved brought peace to the Niger Delta," said Attorney Simeon Efenudu, a former secretary to the Delta State governor.

Efenudu says the amnesty gives officials time to make good on promises to better develop the region, which local activists say the federal government has neglected - taking the Delta's oil but not reinvesting in its people.

Human rights activist Joseph Adekpe says President Yar'Adua's death is a great loss to the people of the Niger Delta.

"There has been no leader who has been able to bring such peace to that area. What we have been used to is the use of blackmail and the use of violence to bring peace," he said. "He was able to bring out the hardliners and the freedom fighters from the creeks to submit their arms. That is no small measure."

Adekpe says Mr. Yar'Adua's commitment to electoral reform has given people of the Delta more confidence that next year's vote will be fairer than the 2007 election.

"He is a man of peace and he is a man of honesty. He is man of his word. He was the first man to accept that the election that brought him to power was fraudulent," continued Adekpe. "I don't think of any leader who has come out so boldly. And he initiated these electoral reforms."

Adekpe says Nigeria will benefit from more leaders with Mr. Yar'Adua's personal integrity.

"He declared his assets before he got there. He is the first man to have done that. If other leaders could do that as well, I believe the wealth of this nation would have been used for the people," he said.

Attorney Efenudu says Mr. Yar'Adua's humility is a lesson for all Nigerians.

"He wants simplicity in government life without ostentatious living," added Efenudu. "He wants Nigerians to be free and work everywhere in Nigeria."

Gabriel Osekene, a former ruling-party ward chairman for Delta State, says President Yar'Adua's judicial reforms made Nigerian society more just.

"He has sanitized the system in such a way that a common man can easily walk in and sue for his or her right," he said. "Formerly you can not sue an incumbent governor. True. But this man came and made the judicial system an independent system."

President Yar'Adua's prolonged medical absence slowed the momentum of his Niger Delta amnesty program. Nigeria's new president Goodluck Jonathan says he is committed to reviving that plan to better develop the region and ensure that former gunmen are properly reintegrated into society.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid