Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has pleaded with Nigerians to jettison their partisan, religious and ethnic differences to join forces with the federal government and security agencies to fight insecurity in the country.
Governor Diri made the plea at the formal flag-off ceremony of “Operation Still Waters” at the Forward Operational Base, 16th Brigade of the Nigerian Army at Ogbia town, Ogbia local government area of the state.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya, for the sacrifices being made for the peace and security of the country.
Describing the military as the bastion of security and a unifying factor in the country, Senator Diri said the sacrifices being made by military personnel to keep Nigeria united are worthy of appreciation and encouragement.
Senator Diri who was represented at the event by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, applauded officers and men for their gallant efforts in checking violence and criminality in the country, in spite of the operational challenges facing them.
He expressed hope that Operation Still Waters would help to check crude oil theft, kidnapping, sea piracy and other criminal activities on the waterways in the Niger Delta.
Governor Diri, however charged the military to exhibit a high level of professionalism in the discharge of their duties in order to guard against human rights abuses.
The Governor also used the opportunity to call on the youths to toe the path of peace and refrain from all forms of criminality, noting that the Operation Still Waters would not spare anyone who is culpable.
He particularly cautioned the youths against illegal refining of crude oil, sea piracy, kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, cultism and other social vices.
His words: “”We want to use this opportunity to convey our appreciation to the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari and also to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Farouk Yahaya and all the military commanders who have made a lot of sacrifice for our country, our state and our people.
“Our service men have fought on our behalf at the risk of their lives and families.
“More often than not, they leave their families and sojourn elsewhere for years without having the opportunity of bonding and nurturing their families like we the civilians have. The sacrifices you have been making for this country must at this time be recognised.
“We believe that the state government and the security agencies have been responding appropriately to any crimes reported. We want to commend you for what you are doing in the state, for bringing justice to the criminals and the criminals to justice.
“We want to use this opportunity to encourage our youths to toe the path of peace. We call on our youths to abandon the path of pipeline vandalization, crude oil theft, illegal refining and cultism. We are appealing to them to abandon those unproductive lifestyles.
“We believe that this exercise will not and should not spare anybody who have made themselves available for such activities which are inimical to society.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Brigade 16 Commander, Brigadier General Oluwarotimi Awolo, said the military exercise was in line with the directive of the Chief of Army Staff to wipe out sea piracy, kidnapping, pipeline destruction among other vices in the Niger Delta.
Awolo disclosed that the exercise was also intended to build a robust civil-military cooperation and synergy, with medical outreaches to be carried out in selected communities in the operational area.
He assured Bayelsans of the military’s commitment to rid the state of criminals in a professional manner, and solicited the support of the government and people.
In his remarks, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6th Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj. Gen. S.G. Mohammed, pointed out that the exercise was simultaneously flagged off in Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Akwa-Ibom states.
Represented by the Brig. Gen E.A Agbebaku, the GOC acknowledged the state government’s support, stressing that the exercise would promote inter-agency cooperation between the army and other security agencies in the Niger Delta.