President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, explained that his decision to postpone the ground-breaking ceremony for the multi-billion Naira Gas Revolution Industrial Park, GRIP, was not ‘in furtherance of any anti-Itsekiri agenda, but to allow for an amicable resolution of the dispute over the site and location of the project.
The planned commissioning of the proposed GRIP was postponed by the president following threat by the Ijaw community to cause mayhem over the location of the site.
The postponement has not gone down well with the Itsekiris as they accused the President of acting in solidarity with his Ijaw brothers.
But addressing State House Correspondents, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati said though the president “is affiliated to the Ijaw ethnic group by birth, 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.”
According to Abati “the postponement of the groundbreaking 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 actualisation for the benefit of the Itsekiri, Ijaw, Urhobo, Igbo, Isoko and all other Nigerians.”
President Jonathan noted that the “elders, community leaders and parties to the dispute over the location and ground breaking event for the gas Industrial park who have resorted to threats and accusations of partisanship against the president in press conferences and paid adverts in newspapers are therefore being most unfair to him and doing a great disservice to continuing efforts to forge greater national unity and peaceful coexistence”.
The statement said: “We assure all concerned persons that as the leader of the nation, President Jonathan is not and cannot 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.
“President Jonathan therefore urges all parties to the communal dispute over the location and ownership of the site of the Gas Industrial Revolution Park to cooperate fully with ongoing efforts by the federal government and Delta State government to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues so that the project can proceed for the benefit of local communities, all Nigerians and investors. In the greater interest of the nation, President Jonathan expects the respected elders and leaders of the concerned communities to heed the pleas of federal and state government mediators and expeditiously resolve their differences for the good of all and the progress of the country.”