From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Niger Delta stakeholders have described as unreasonable and vexatious an alleged plan by the Federal Government to substitute the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) with the crude oil pipeline contract recently awarded to some persons in the region.
The stakeholders warned that the plan would trigger another round of agitation and frustrate the campaign against oil theft in the region.
According to the stakeholders, including traditional rulers, elders, women groups, youth groups, former militant leaders and others from across the nine states of the Niger Delta region, the Federal Government plan was revealed by the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Barry Tariye Ndiomu, during a presidential mandate briefing with PAP employees on October 5, 2022 in Abuja.
They said part of the plan to shut down PAP was Ndiomu’s directive to staff to immediately commence the process of winding-down prior to the expiration of his tenure on March 1 2023, approximately 90 days before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure on May 29, 2023.
The stakeholders, in a statement signed by Maxwell Ayamabele, condemned the actions and steps taken so far by Ndiomu, describing his action as “inexperienced, naïve, and disrespectful to all traditional rulers, women groups, youth leaders and former militant leaders that participated in the amnesty process under the leadership of the late president Umaru Yar’adua.
“Since Ndiomu’s appointment, the smooth operations of the amnesty programme have shattered; causing serious tension across the region due to his so-called presidential mandate to urgently terminate the programme in exchange for the pipeline surveillance contract.
“Ndiomu failed to meet with the relevant stakeholders that fought for the establishment of PAP to brief them and the people in the region about the reasons behind his plans to urgently terminate a programme that directly and indirectly benefits over a million families across the Niger Delta region,” they said.
They further cautioned Ndiomu to desist from his plan to forcefully reduce the number of amnesty beneficiaries in the different camps by almost 50 per cent; from 30,000 former militants to 15,000, stating that such an illegal act to deny legitimate beneficiaries of the amnesty programme will be resisted.
They said the region would use every means necessary to resist him and the presidency’s plan during the remaining few months of the administration.