President Goodluck Jonathan has mandated the Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, relevant authorities in the Presidency and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to fix a new date for the ground breaking ceremony of the $16 billion Delta Gas City and the Export Processing Zone project.
Dr. Jonathan gave the directive when he paid a courtesy call on the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse II, in the company of Dr. Uduaghan, during an unscheduled visit to Delta State.
He pointed out that it would not be possible to do the ground breaking before the elections because the investors have to be around for the ceremony, stressing that these were companies that have to be given enough notice.
Jonathan therefore mandated Uduaghan to work closely with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Presidency to get a suitable date before May 29, 2015for the exercise.
President Jonathan took the opportunity of the visit to explain the circumstances surrounding the aborted ground breaking for the Delta Gas City project and the Export Free Zone.
He told the Olu of Warri in the presence of his chiefs that he had to put off the ground breaking because of the fear of outbreak of violence after the ceremony, which would have frightened investors.
According to him, his action in putting off the exercise was not borne out of fear that anything was going to happen to him, noting that as a son of the Niger Delta, he could move freely in the zone without molestation.
Jonathan during the visit also had a private audience with the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
Governor Uduaghan on his part commended the President’s personal visit to the Olu of Warri, which has afforded him the opportunity to explain to the monarch and the Itsekiri people the issues surrounding the ground breaking ceremony of the project.
Uduaghan also expressed appreciation to the monarch on his understanding of Jonathan’s explanation and commitment to the project.
He appealed to groups and individuals to desist from politicizing the ground breaking ceremony, adding: “We join Mr. President in our commitment to the success of the project.”