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PNG’s Grand Chief Sir Michael Reiterates Support For O’Neill Government
Ex-rivals share stage at Aitape district administration building opening

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 25, 2013) – The National Alliance will stand or fall with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare said in Aitape on Saturday.

A political statement oft heard before from many quarters, to be sure, but when it comes from Sir Michael and it directly refers to the man who just a year back ditched him unceremoniously from the highest political office, it does create a stir – as it did in Aitape.

The man, affectionately dubbed "father of the nation" explained: "Let bygones be bygones.

"We must work together for the good of the nation."

The theme was picked up by O’Neill when his turn came: "We will not change all problems overnight but we believe we are on the way.

"We are putting resources back with the people, in the districts, the LLGs and the provinces.

"That is why stability of government is very important. Stability of government will mean stability of policies. Stability of policies will enable delivery of programmes and services."

The prime minister exhorted public servants as well as every individual to take responsibility for their actions and take ownership of programmes and policies of government in order to develop.

"For the first time we are putting money into the districts," he told the crowd. "We are giving K500,000 to each local level government.

"We are giving K10 million each year to districts.

"Aitape gets K10 million this year and every year for five years. That works out to about K50 million. On top of that we are giving K30 million to each province.

"We have rolled out the first K600 million in the past two weeks.

"We are paying your school fees and putting money back in your pocket but you must use that money wisely for your family’s welfare.

"This country can only change if you have pride in yourselves and take responsibility.

"Government did not ask you to make babies. You did it yourself. Nobody asked you to get married and raise a family. You did it yourself. Take pride and take responsibility."

NA leader and Aitape-Lumi MP and Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch had invited both Sir Michael and O’Neill to witness the opening of the district administration building and the launch of a rural electrification scheme in the district.

Pruaitch also endorsed Sir Michael’s commitment to work with the ruling party and called on public servants to be at their jobs in the districts and perform their tasks, now that government resources were directed to the provinces.

Pruaitch said: "Getting services directly to the rural areas is a move in the right direction. I ask public servants to get behind the government.

"You public servants of Nuku remain in Nuku. Those of Aitape must remain in Aitape. Those in Vanimo must remain in Vanimo.

"Your doors must always be open. Our people must have access to you."

His comments were met with roars of approval from the public, a sure sign public servants have fallen out of favour with people.

The prime minister opened the Brere Awol building dedicated to a former provincial assembly member and launched the rural electrification scheme.

He gave K2 million for the work of the district administration and announced that K5 million was in the budget for the development of the Aitape wharf.

Sir Michael met the prime minister with a guard of honour of combined police and Correctional Services.

On Saturday at Boram Airport, Pruaitch, at whose invitation the two had gone to Aitape, endorsed Sir Michael’s comments.

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