From: Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
A Niger Delta Advisory group, the Grassroots Initiative for a Peace and Social Orientation (GIPSO), has dismissed as “misplaced” the recent agitation by some people in Abia State over non-inclusion of some agitators from the state in the proposed improved Presidential Amnesty Programme.
This is even as the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme has declared that Abia State was not part of the nine Niger Delta states covered by the Amnesty programme.
National Coordinator of the Group, Mr. Richard Akinaka, in a statement, on Wednesday, described the call as ‘pathetic’ as there was no militant camp in Abia State during the era of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
Akinaka aligned himself with the position of the Amnesty office that militants from Abia State were members of the Tom Ateke militant group and other ex-militant leaders from Rivers State.
According to Akinaka, “It is very pathetic to some of us who from the beginning we were involved in this processes was no militant camp in Abia state. The only person recognised hail from Abia and submitted arms in Rivers state. Why is everyone interested in Federal Government Amnesty? Is it because the Amnesty deal is now working and they want purported free money for their people?
The Abia indigenes in Amnesty are from Chief Tom Ateke’s camps and they are being catered for. So, if Abia state governor wants Amnesty for his people he should go and do so like the Governor Nyesmo Wike is doing in Rivers. The governors should not compound the problem of the region instead they should see look on how to reduce the burden of the federal government,” he said.
Meanwhile, the GIPSO has warned the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, against the conduct of Town Hall meetings with some groups and ex-militant leaders in the region.
The group stated that the series town hall meetings being conducted by Kachikwu was creating tensions and dividing interests against the peace package put together by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo for the region.
The group stated that the selective town hall meeting organized by Kachikwu is giving undue advantage to those who decided to blackmail the government by bombing oil and gas infrastructure in the region.
“He wants to be seen as the one in charge but he is not on ground because he is not a grassroots person. He has been sidelining critical people who have interest and background in the peace building process in the region. What Ibe Kachikwu is doing is setting a bad precedent by rewarding those that took up arms for no reasons whatsoever by treating them with kids gloves. As much we are interested in the Vice President and process he has started, the Vice President should be very careful about the people who are coordinating the process” the statement said.