September 18, (THEWILL) – Traditional rulers, Stakeholders and Ex-militant leaders from the Niger Delta region, have called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Mohammed Monguno (rtd.), to allow the incoming administration to determine the lifespan of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
The traditional rulers, stakeholders and ex-militant leaders also urged the President and the NSA, to allow the newly appointed Interim Administrator, Major General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd.), to use the remaining eight (8) months of his administration to review the PAP and make recommendations to the incoming administration by 29th May 2023.
The Stakeholders, made up of Traditional Rulers, Youth Leaders and Former Militant Leaders, argued that though the Presidency has reportedly handed the new administrator, Gen. Ndiomu (rtd.) a six months’ timeline to shut-down the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) by February, 2023; the presidency should be cautious and tread carefully, while in haste without considering the several implications on the nation’s security, the possible disruption of economic activities, drastic decline in foreign exchange earnings from oil and gas production and sales, loss of oil revenues for payments of the nation’s recurrent expenditures, and loss of revenues for infrastructural development across the nation, including the possible disruption and or cancellation of the 2023 national elections across the nine (9) states of the Niger Delta region, and the nation at large.
The convener of the Stakeholders and Former Militant leaders, High Chief Pere Agbeinfa, pointed out that “though the region had sustained the peace for many years, and allowed the free-flow of oil and gas production and sales in our national interest, despite the displeasing policies of the present administration, the final straw that may break the camel’s back, and possibly disrupt the peace across the region might be the abrupt closure of the Presidential Amnesty office that provides for over 30,000 ex-militants and their families.
“While at the same time, the presidency 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 by the actions of these terrorists.”
Chief Agbeinfa noted that past Amnesty administrators lost their jobs because of the heavy burden that the ordered closure of the Amnesty office by the Buhari administration placed before them, and considering that the Presidential Amnesty office is the only intervention agency working for the people of the region, after the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have been left comatose by the present administration with almost 80 percent of the NDDC funds being siphoned back to Abuja in the name of “Villa Boys.”
He also notes 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 elections and thwart the renewed campaign against crude oil theft from the Niger Delta region.
High Chief Pere Agbeinfa, however, congratulated the newly appointed Interim Administrator, Major General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd), describing him as a man with known capacity engulfed in a drive to contribute to the development of the region.
He urged the new administrator to sustain the tempo and improve on building the bridge between the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and the people of the Niger Delta region.
“We also want to charge the newly appointed Interim Administrator to interface with the leaders of the Amnesty Programme and the beneficiaries in the renewed fight against crude oil theft, in order to calm down frayed nerves, following the commendable award of the Surveillance contract to a former militant leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, which will benefit thousands of families across the region and our national economy.
“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 ex-militants, youths and stakeholders in the region. Muhammadu Buhari’s administration needs the Presidential Amnesty Programme now more than ever to partner with the PAP 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 ex-militants beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme, in terms of relative peace across the Niger Delta region, positive change in mindset of ex-agitators, promoting the free-flowing of oil and gas production and sales, renewed entrepreneurship spirits, and their willingness to engage with stakeholders and public officials to promote peace and security must be sustained by the presidency.
“Otherwise the costs of renewed crisis across the region, loss of revenue from oil and gas sales, fundings for security agencies to restore the disrupted peace by the federal government, including the possible disruption and or cancellation of the 2023 national elections across the nine (9) states of the Niger Delta region, and the nation at large, might be unimaginable.”