DELTA State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan has decried accusations leveled on President Goodluck Jonathan of being partisan in the issue of Delta Gas City project, Ogidigben, saying, the President means well for Nigerians.
He also, strongly condemned the recent kidnap of fourteen journalists in some parts of Delta State, stating that the President was worried as a result of the incident and has charged security operatives to unravel what happened.
Dr Uduaghan who was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Press Week of the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, at Asaba, emphasized that the Gas City Project was sited in Delta State despite several interests because of the love President Jonathan has for the state.
“I find it very unfortunate and objectionable that the President was been accused of partisanship and have been asked to resign. If the President has no love for Delta State, he would not have visited Delta State at least twice this year to inaugurate two projects in that part of the state. It shows he loves Delta State,” he said.
According to him, the project was originally billed for Koko but had to be relocated to the present site at Ogidigben because of the shallow nature of the waters at the initial location, noting that if Mr. President had ulterior motive he could have taken it to another state.
“This is a $16 billion project which was approved by Mr. President to be located in Delta State, the initial place the project was to be located was Koko but, because of the need for a deep sea port, it was relocated to Ogidigben.
“Let us join hands together peacefully to ensure that the project takes off as everybody will benefit from it irrespective tribe, I want to appeal to everybody to put aside our differences and ensure that the project takes off as investors are waiting, let us not use our hands to drive away investors,” the Governor said.
“I think I owe it a duty and a responsibility as the chief executive of Delta State to apologize to all journalists in Nigeria for the very ugly incident that happened in this state in the last two days in which 14 journalists were unfortunately held hostage. I say the act itself is unfortunate, it is condemnable”, adding that Mr. President has directed thorough investigation into the incident and that anyone found culpable would be handled by security agencies.
He commended the Delta State Council of NUJ for being peaceful and challenged journalists to be objective in reporting the forthcoming 2015 elections.
“As journalists, you have specific roles to play to ensure that all is well with the country, you have enormous powers as one word or one write-up can change the history of the world, nation and election. Remember the saying: the pen is mightier than the sword. I appeal to all of you to abide by the tenets of your profession, verify that your story is true before you disseminate information.”
Dr Uduaghan assured Journalists in Delta State that his administration would build and complete a befitting secretariat for the Delta State Council of the NUJ.
In a lecture on “Reporting The 2015 General Elections,” the President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr. Femi Adeshina, said the success of the 2015 general elections depended on the media, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies.
“The media should beam its spotlight on all involved in politics and ensure that the game is played according to the rules in an impartial and objective manner.”
He condemned irresponsible reporting especially in the social media who do not subscribe to ethics of journalism.
The National President of NUJ, Alhaji Mohammed Garba who was represented by the Deputy National President, Comrade Rotimi Obamuwagun, the Commissioner of Information in the state, Barr. Chike Ogeah and the State Chairman of NUJ, Comrade Norbert Chiazor in their separate remarks commended Governor Uduaghan for been media friendly and supporting the cause of journalists.
Below are excerpts of Governor Uduaghan’s Address:
Before we start saying anything I think I owe it a duty and a responsibility as the chief executive of Delta State to apologize to all journalists in Nigeria for the very ugly incident that happened in this state in the last two days in which 14 journalists were unfortunately held hostage. I say the act itself is unfortunate, it is condemnable. Let me assure everyone that the presidency and the president himself has ordered a thorough investigation into the issue and I want to assure you that anyone who is found guilty will be handled adequately by the security agencies.
Let me also quickly say that what has happened in that area, the Warri South West in the last one week is very unfortunate. It is a 16billion dollars project that the president graciously approved almost two years back to be located in our land. Many other states lobbied seriously for this project but the president approved that this project should be located in Delta State. It was possible for him to have said ‘look let this project be taken elsewhere’ and with all the challenges we had, it was also possible for him to have said ‘we are moving this thing elsewhere’.
Do not forget that the initial location of the project was Koko, but when the investors came and they found that the water channels was quite shallow and to drain the waterways would cost a lot of money they advised that it should be relocated from there and of course the most adequate place was the land at Ogidigben. The first stage, the land was found and an extension was also found for that land when it was now known that the deep-sea port had to be constructed as part of the gas city.
I also found it very unfortunate and objectionable for anyone to accuse Mr. President of being partisan and ask him to resign. If the President did not love Delta State he would not have brought the project here. He has been to Delta State at least twice this year and to that part of the state to flag off a very key project. Is that a man we should be accusing of having hatred for us? I don’t think it is right for people to ask him to resign and as I told them when they said it, I said they must separate the issues, let them deal with the issues and stop being personal. If you have personal issues with anybody don’t bring it to the issue of this gas project because Mr. President means well, I mean well and we are determined to ensure that that project kicks off.
What has happened is unfortunate but let us all peacefully try to put our heads together and ensure that the project kicks off because like it has been explained by the President’s media man that the project is enough to absorb not only Itsekiri or Ijaw or Deltans but even Nigerians. Everyone will benefit from that project if we allow the project to kick off.
So I want to appeal to us especially those of us from that area that the talk that is going on should quickly be put to an end. Investors are waiting, investors are watching; let us not use our hand to drive away the investors and to drive away the investments.