Published On: Tue, Nov 18th, 2014

$16 EPZ Saga: Stop Abusing Me, Jonathan Cautions Itsekiris

President Goodluck Jonathan

LAGOS NOVEMBER 18TH (URHOBOTODAY)-President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday expressed dismay over what he described as “abusive denigration of his personal integrity and the whipping up of divisive ethnic sentiments” by Itsekiris over the botched ground breaking ceremony of the $16billion Export Processing Zone Project.
The project, which was due for commissioning by Jonathan last Friday, was botched following severe threats by ex-Niger Delta militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo (a.k.a. Tompolo) and other Ijaw natives.

While the Itsekiri leaders called the president a coward and demanded his resignation and that of the state governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, Tompolo kidnapped 14 journalists in furtherance of the protest by Ijaws.
But speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the president lamented that elders, community leaders and parties to the dispute had resorted to threats and accusations of partisanship against him in press conferences and paid adverts in newspapers.
He said they were “being most unfair to him and doing a great disservice to continuing efforts to forge greater national unity and peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians”.
Briefing State House correspondents yesterday, Abati explained that the postponement of the ground-breaking ceremony for the project earlier scheduled for last Friday was not in furtherance of any anti-Itsekiri agenda.
“Rather, it was borne out of the clear need to give all concerned parties more time to achieve the communal peace, understanding and harmony that will greatly facilitate the project’s speedy actualization for the benefit of Itsekiris, Ijaws, Urhobos, Ibos, Isokos and all other Nigerians,” he said.
Abati assured interested parties in the dispute that, as the leader of the nation, President Jonathan was not, and could not be on the side of any party to the avoidable dispute over the location and ownership of the site of the Gas Revolution Industrial Park.
“The project itself was conceived for the benefit of all Nigerians, not just Itsekiris, Ijaws, Urhobos or other ethnic groups in its immediate environment. In terms of employment opportunities, it is projected that the Gas Industrial Revolution Park will ultimately create up to three million jobs for Nigerians in its catchment area and other parts of the country,” he stated.
The presidential spokesman said the president urged all parties to the communal dispute over the location and ownership of the site of the industrial park to cooperate fully with ongoing efforts by the federal government and the Delta State government to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues.
According to the statement, the president looks forward to coming to perform the ground-breaking ceremony for the Gas Industrial Revolution Park very soon in conditions of communal peace, unity and harmony, adding that the president had always proved that he was the leader of the whole nation and not just his ethnic group.
“It should be apparent to all Nigerians by now that while President Jonathan may be affiliated to the Ijaw ethnic group by birth, he knows fully well that he was elected President of all Nigerians and has always shown, by word and deed, that he will always uphold the oath he swore on assumption of office to protect and promote the interests of all citizens with justice, equity and fairness to all as his guiding principles,” Abati added.
Source: CKN

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