BY EFE MOSESTUS
Former militant leaders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders from the Niger Delta region have urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, not to shut down the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
According to them, the Interim Administrator, Barry Ndiomu, appointed to replace Milland Dikio, should be allowed to determine the life-span of the programme.
They also urged the president and the NSA to allow Ndiomu to use the remaining eight months of his administration to review the PAP and make recommendations to the incoming administration by May 29, 2023.
Convener of the stakeholders and former militant leader, Pere Agbeinfa, while claiming Ndiomu has been handed a six-month timeline to shut down the programme, warned against the hasty scrapping of the programme considering the several implications on the nation’s security and the possible disruption of economic activities.
While pointing out that the Niger Delta region had been relatively peaceful, he warned that the closure of the amnesty office may lead to an unimaginable crisis in the region that may lead to the disruption of the 2023 general election and thwart the renewed campaign against crude oil theft from the Niger Delta region.
Agbeinfa argued that there is no justification for the closure of the amnesty programme when the Federal Government is utilising billions of naira that have been exploited from the Niger Delta region for the training and rehabilitation of their so-called repentant Boko-Haram terrorists, and Islamic States of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists that have killed and maimed thousands of innocent Nigerians with millions of Nigerians displaced.
He seized the opportunity to congratulate Ndiomu, describing him as a leader capable of driving the development in the Niger Delta region; sustaining the tempo in the efforts to bridge the gap between President Buhari-led administration and the people of the Niger Delta region.
Agbeinfa called for an interface between leaders of the amnesty programme and those charged with the renewed war against crude oil theft to ensure a stable and peaceful Niger Delta region.
“It is urgently necessary for a proper inter-agency line of communication with the PAP to be established for the crude oil and gas pipeline surveillance contractors across the region to interface, interact, and coordinate with former militants, youths and stakeholders in the region. The Buhari’s administration needs the PAP now more than ever to partner it in monitoring and reducing oil theft which has affected our nation’s oil and gas revenues.
“The paradigm shift in the leaders of amnesty programme, and in the 30,000 former militants beneficiaries of the amnesty programme, in terms of relative peace across the Niger Delta region, must be sustained by the presidency,” he said.