From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Niger Delta stakeholders have described as “unreasonable” and “vexatious” the 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.
It warned that the plan will trigger another round of agitation and frustrate the campaign against oil theft in the region.
According to the stakeholders, made up of traditional rulers, elders, women groups, youth groups, former militant leaders and stakeholders from across the nine states of the Niger Delta region, the plan of the federal government was revealed by the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Major General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (retd), during a “Presidential Mandate briefing” with employees of the Presidential Amnesty Programme on 5th October 2022 at the Sheraton Resort, Abuja, FCT.
They noted that part of the plan to shut down PAP was Ndiomu’s directive to the staff of the PAP to immediately commence the process of winding down the PAP prior to the expiration of his tenure on 1st March 2023; approximately 90 days before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure of 29th May 2023.
The stakeholders in a statement issued via electronic mail and signed by High Chief Maxwell Ayamabele, condemned the actions and steps taken so far by Ndiomu terming 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 late President, Late Umaru Musa Yar’adua.
“Since Gen Ndiomu’s appointment, the smooth operations of the Amnesty programme have shattered; causing serious tension across the region due to Ndiomu’s so-called presidential mandate to urgently terminate the Amnesty programme in exchange for the pipeline surveillance contract. Gen Ndiomu failed to meet with the relevant stakeholders that fought for the establishment of the Presidential Amnesty Programme 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.”
Ayamabele further cautioned Gen 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 ex-militants to 15,000, stating that such an illegal act to deny legitimate beneficiaries of the amnesty programme will surely be resisted.
They warned Ndiomu against “allowing himself to be used by the Fulani – Kanuri oligarchy against his own people to perform an impossible, dead-on-arrival plan,” stating that “all ex-militants and stakeholders across the nine states of the region will use every means necessary to resist him and the presidency’s plan during the remaining few months of the administration.”