Nigerian militants Sunday attacked a police station in the country's oil-rich south and fought a gun battle with security forces in an attempt to free a militant leader. Meanwhile, it seems the ongoing hostage crisis in the troubled Niger Delta region may take center stage in the governor?s race for Delta State.
Peter Okocha is candidate for the opposition Action Congress Party. His rival is ruling People?s Democratic Party candidate Emmanuel Uduaghan. Okocha said he wants to be governor to improve the conditions of the people in Delta State.
?I want to be governor of Delta State to serve my people; to be able to be able to ameliorate the suffering of the Niger Delta people in Delta State, to give them quality leadership and enhance their position in the geopolitical struggle of this country,? he said.
Delta State is one of the hot beds of the militants who have been taking hostages there. But Okocha expressed surprise the region was being referred to as a militant hot bed.
?Well, it is unfortunate that Delta State can be classified as such. No body was born a criminal, society makes him so. If the needs and aspirations of the people in the Niger Delta are being taken care of; if they were provided with good schools, good hospitals, jobs after education, infrastructure, power, enough for them to develop their potential, I don?t think they will involve themselves in militancy,? Okocha said.
Okocha, once a member of the ruling People?s Democratic Party, said he disagrees with the use of the Nigerian military as a solution to the Niger Delta crisis.
?I still believe that dialogue is the best solution to solve this issue in the Niger Delta. Who will you kill? These boys are in the creeks. Where will you find them to kill? The military has not succeeded so far in working them off. So the best thing is to call them to the roundtable, find out their problem. So once these issues can be addressed, I am definitely sure that the situation in the Niger Delta will be as good as been solved,? Okocha said.
He said if you he is elected governor of Delta State, he would allocate about 75 percent of the revenues derived from the 13 percent derivation towards establishing infrastructures in the Niger Delta area.
Okocha, once a member of the ruling People?s Democratic Party, said he disagrees with the decision by federal government to opt for a military solution in the Niger Delta.
?I still believe that dialogue is the best solution to solve this issue in the Niger Delta. Who will you kill? These boys are in the creeks. Where will you find them to kill? The military has so far not succeeded in working them off. So the best thing is to call them to the roundtable, find out their problem. So once these issues can be addressed, I am definitely sure that the situation in the Niger Delta would have been solved,? he said.
Okocha said if he is elected governor of Delta State, he would allocate about 75 percent of the revenue derived from 13 percent derivation toward establishing infrastructures in the Niger Delta area.
In denying its involvement in last week?s capture of a cargo ship and the detention of its Filipino crew, the group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Dental said the action was carried out by politicians in Delta State to blackmail current governor Ibori and the ruling PDP to drop Emmanuel Uduaghan as their candidate for governor.
Okocha denied the hostage takers were acting on his behalf.
?I don?t know anything about those hostage takers. But what I do know is that the indigenes of Delta State are saying that we have had four years of his brother, and their lot has not been better. What is the chance that they still have life in another four years or eight years of Emmanuel Uduaghan he said.
Okocha said he does not condone the taking of hostages. He said he is married to an African American woman, and that each time a foreign hostage is captured, he thinks about his wife. At the same time, Okocha said he understands why the hostage takers are doing what they are doing.
?Such attitudes are absolutely unacceptable. But we also have to look at why those people are doing the thing they are doing. Why after eight years of an administration that people are still saying we don?t have this, we don?t have that. Is it possible that if you give them good schools, good hospitals, good infrastructures, a better life for tomorrow, and hope for the future, will they be able to continue with their attitude? They are not hostile hostage takers because to God be the glory, no hostage has been killed to date. That means that they?re only trying to only make a point. This is our problem. Help us tell the outside world that the government of the state has failed us,? Okocha said.