News / Africa

Niger Delta Leaders Say Acting President Must Show Commitment to Security

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has just over one year before voters choose a new leader, or far less if President Umaru Yar'Adua recovers from a heart condition and resumes the powers of the presidency.



Leaders in Nigeria's troubled Niger Delta believe Acting President Goodluck Jonathan can make progress on resolving a rebellion over oil profits and environmental damage if he moves quickly to demonstrate his political commitment.

Acting President Jonathan says ending violence in the Niger Delta is one of the biggest priorities for his new administration. He has restructured the management of an amnesty plan for former fighters and says the first class of job training will begin this month.

But at the most, he has just over one year before voters choose a new leader. Or far less if President Umaru Yar'Adua recovers from a heart condition and resumes the powers of the presidency. So Mr. Jonathan is realistic about what he can accomplish in so short a time.

"These are issues that you cannot really say you are going to conclude in a year, because the issue of young men who have taken arms to fight the system and some of them the capacity is quite low," he explained.  "So it takes a lot of time to train them, even for them to be in position to make a living."

Mr. Jonathan says he is clearly focused on the problem and assures Nigerians that they will see progress.

So what do people in the Niger Delta think?

"Any project succeeding depends on the people who are the heads. Because if the head is bad, nothing can go well. If they really apply themselves to their jobs, something good will come out of it," explained Simeon Efundu, a former secretary in the Delta state government and a member of the region's elders' forum.

Efundu says Mr. Jonathan must closely watch how money for the Delta is being spent.

"There are some people who want to play politics of the stomach," he added.  "All they are thinking about is how I can be rich without caring what the masses are suffering."

Human rights activist Oke Joseph says Mr. Jonathan can bring peace to the Niger Delta if he shows the political will to follow through on developing the region.

"We don't need politics this time. We need commitment," noted Joseph.  "It depends on him. Political will. If he has it, he can do it. Anybody who has the political will can do it. But are they ready? That is the thing."

Chief Mike Ofere says Mr. Jonathan's decision to personally supervise the power ministry in his new cabinet shows he is serious about improving electricity for the Delta.

"He wants to make sure that power comes into place. We have been suffering darkness whereas in many places they are having light," said Ofere.

Chief Gabriel Gegbekpo says replacing President Yar'Adua's Cabinet gives Mr. Jonathan the opportunity to make real progress.

"With the change of Cabinet, there is going to be good things in this country," said Gegbekpo.  "There is going to be a perfect reform as far as this country is concerned politically, economically, and socially."

Acting President Jonathan says he will build on President Yar'Adua's Niger Delta amnesty plan under which thousands of gunmen turned in their weapons for a monthly stipend and the promise of job opportunities. The amnesty turned around what had been nearly four years of declining petroleum output because of kidnappings and sabotage in the Niger Delta.

Additional reporting for this story provided by Hilary Uguru in Nigeria.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs