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

Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More