From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Ijaw Elders under the aegis of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) have offered reasons why Niger Delta Stakeholders’ opposed attempts by the Federal Government to scrap the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
They argued that the scrapping of the programme will trigger a time bomb waiting to explode in the region.
According to the Ijaw Elders, the 13 years of the wrongful and military styled implementation of the Presidential Amnesty Programme without the promised pillars of disarmament, rehabilitation and re-integration has made the proposed scrapping a time bomb that may explode and disrupt the fragile peace in the region.
The Second Vice President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Alabo Nengi James made this known in Warri,Delta state during the Niger Delta Economic Discourse series organized by the Gbaramatu Voice Newspapers with the theme “The Presidential Amnesty Program: The Challenges from 2009_2022 and the Way Forward”.
“The Amnesty Programme, which was hurriedly put in place without proper strategy has been executed with militarization rather than civilization. The programme was poorly handled by the military elements which lacked the capacity for mediation with stakeholders. Regrettably, the Amnesty program proclamation did not factor in mediation and conflict transformation. The poor implementation has made the programme a time bomb that may explode if the programme is terminated chaotically” he said.
James pointed out that the aim of such a programme and the processes that may terminate it must be made to undergo conflict transformation with change in the various parties involved and their relationships.
“The Niger Delta politicians, the Federal Government, activists and beneficiaries of the programme should be guided by the provisions of the Kaima declaration of December,1998 and focus on the fundamentals of the struggle inherited from our revolutionary ancestry. The fundamentals of the struggle are resource control and ownership. The Amnesty programme offers the stakeholders the opportunity to re-strategise and re-negotiate with the Federal Government from the position of strength.”
He also warned that in the event of mandatory shut down of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the Federal Government must consider the fact that the Amnesty beneficiaries have demonstrated goodwill by disarming and embracing the programme for the sustainable development of the region noting that their “interest should be protected before winding down the programme.”
A negotiation team should be constituted to negotiate with the Federal Government on how to best implement the marshall plan for the rapid development of the region.”
“All Amnesty beneficiaries should be gainfully employed or empowered, before the programme is allowed to wind up. That the Amnesty programme has become a cesspool of corruption for revenue leakages should be blocked for efficient management of the programme,” he added.