Yenagoa—The National President,
Niger Delta Nonviolence Agitators Forum (NDNAF), Comrade Wisdom Ikuli has said the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva deserves to be conferred with the Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON) National award.
Ikuli appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to confer Sylva with the honour, particularly for his role in engendering relative peace in the Niger Delta region.
He added that the gesture would spur Sylva and other patriotic Nigerians to continue to make sacrifices for the country and as well encourage the younger generations to emulate their patriotic zeal and spirits.
Ikuli in a statement on Friday opined that Sylva more than any other leader in the region played a major part in bringing about peace in the Niger Delta.
He said Sylva while as governor of Bayelsa state against the warning of pessimists moved to dialogue and pacify agitators in the region, which according to him, played an instrumental role in the birth of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) by the Umar Musa Yar’Adua-led federal government.
He said Sylva also “facilitated” the passage of the Petroleum Industrial Act (PIA) which he believes would give oil-producing communities a sense of belonging as against the spectator role they previously played.
“It is a known fact that everyone was afraid of the very hostile Militants. Most of the elders and leaders of the Niger Delta never wanted to have anything to do with the militants.
“It was indeed a very horrible period in the history of the country especially because of the untold hardship Nigerians were made to go through because of the crumbling economy.
“It was only Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State that summoned extraordinary courage to confront the hydra-headed monster.
“Sylva left the comfort of the Creek Haven (Government House) and moved from one militant camp to the other to appeal to the agitators to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue.
“There were cases Gov. Sylva even procured Prado jeeps which he ferried through the creeks to give to some of the agitators who demanded that those SUVs should be delivered to them in their villages.
“Ironically, most Niger Delta elders and leaders including State Governors mocked Sylva when he endangered himself and was moving round those camps.
“But to the greatest surprise of the pessimists the efforts and immeasurable sacrifices of Sylva paid off and that led to the proclamation of the Presidential Amnesty by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
“That effort helped in the restoration of peace and stabilization of the economy of the country.
“As Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Chief Timipre Sylva facilitated the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which couldn’t see the light of the day in previous administrations.
Ikuli who is also the Executive Director of the Centre for Peace Advocacy and Social Rehabilitation (CPASR) further said the minister was behind the pipeline surveillance contract that was awarded to Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo by the federal government to curb crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
In his words, “Chief Timipre Sylva also facilitated the award of the surveillance contract that will help to fight crude oil theft and bunkering that will help to save the Niger Delta environment and the dwindling economy of the country.
“I can make bold to say without equivocation that no single Nigerian has made the kind of sacrifices Chief Timipre Sylva has made to restore peace in the Niger Delta and also save the economy of our great country. “