*Urges FG to withdraw soldiers to face flash points in North East
By Cletus Opukeme, Abuja
Member representing Burutu federal constituency who was re-elected under the People Democratic Party (PDP) RT. Hon. Julius Pondi has expressed concern over the militarization of Niger Delta, even though there has been no crisis in the region.
He also expressed joy for lawmakers during the 8th National Assembly who he said displayed high sense of maturity, empathy and understanding on both local and national issues.
Pondi disclosed this during a valedictory speech at the floor of the green chambers in Abuja, said ‘‘
He continued ‘‘On several occasions, the parliament was briefed at plenary on the ceaseless siege till date by the military on the Niger Delta. This is usually on flimsy excuses when the nation, in other regions, is weighed down on daily basis by acts of banditry and other forms of criminality.
‘‘However, I thank my colleagues for their show of love. I am indebted to all of you for the passage of the Nigeria Shoreline Development and Protection Agency Bill. The Bill is not about the individual but about our national interest. It’s a global practice for nations which share borders with oceans to institutionalize the protection of their shorelines. That is the philosophy of the Bill.
‘‘Democracy is about the people and not about the exclusive preferences of individuals. It should be seen and acted upon as a collective enterprise that aggregates our shared hopes and aspirations for the betterment of the greatest numbers of our various peoples. On our experience in the 8th Assembly, I believe useful lessons have been learned.
‘‘Honourable Colleagues, the free-fall of insecurity in the land especially in the past four years leaves us empty and deflated. That the parliament failed to compel the instruments of state authority to bring about a halt to the declining security in our country leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It is a failure that would resonate for many months and perhaps years to come.
‘‘On a day such as this, it is indeed an appropriate time to bid one another goodbye. It’s been a journey of four years that brought together an amalgam of elected representatives from across the length and breadth of our fatherland.
‘‘While it lasted, new friendships and alliances were forged both on the social and political arenas. In truth, it has been a very rewarding tour of duty for me, and for my constituency – Burutu Federal Constituency, it has been an active platform for them to interact unfettered with other parts of their country.
‘‘We have at various times drawn attention to the dreams, aspirations and frustrations of our people. As we did so, my respected honourable colleagues offered empathy and remarkable understanding on issues of local and national discourse. At such times, I could not but appreciate the fact that even in our diversities, there are still very strong sinews of bond that make us who we are…Nigerians.’’ he said.
According to the young parliamentarian, ‘‘Our successes and shortcomings can be calibrated by the numerous motions and bills that were passed and the purposeful oversights that were undertaken.
‘‘Mr. Speaker Sir, as a collective of emerging eminent Nigerians, I believe some of our low moments were whenever pieces of legislative outputs were not assented to, and whenever the resolutions of the parliament were spurned and not implemented. To me, this inclination of other arms of government is a drawback on the wheel of democracy. This should call for a deep reflection on our democracy’’ he stated.
‘‘ On a personal note, I recall my anguish when the country failed the people of Burutu. We had passed a resolution in this chamber that called for the provision of relief materials to victims of massive floods occasioned by heavy and violent ocean waves in Burutu Federal Constituency. The National Emergency Management Agency never did.
‘‘Again, this parliament passed a resolution that asked the NNPC to restore its floating filling stations established some years ago to facilitate and enhance marine transportation in coastal towns and villages in the Niger Delta. This was never done by the NNPC till date.’’
‘‘Mr. Speaker Sir, I seek your permission to draw attention to the focused and purposeful leadership you gave to the House of Representatives these past four years. Together with our principal officers, you gave us purpose and attention. You piloted the affairs of the house with fairness and the fear of God. Little wonder, the tenure was marked by stability and affection that cut across the regions and constituencies. We thank you and congratulate you and the college of principal officers from the depth of our hearts for your humanness and the successes achieved.
‘‘To the rest of my colleagues, I salute every one of us for being part of the history of 8th National Assembly of Nigeria. It is indeed a truism that for every journey that has a beginning, there must be an end to it. This day marks the end of the four-year journey on behalf of our country. As we rejoice in making it to the end, we cannot but be gripped with solemn parting emotions.
‘‘Therefore, on behalf of my people of Burutu Federal Constituency, I congratulate and salute all of us and wish every one of us rewarding endeavours in the future.’’ He noted.