…Laud Buhari’s commitment regional peace
Coordinator of the Forum, Comrade Wisdom Ikuli, addressing the news conference
By Omeiza Ajayi
A good governance advocacy group, the Niger Delta Nonviolent Agitators Forum has demanded more commitment to the actualization of the original plan behind establishing the Presidential Amnesty Programme PAP, especially the empowerment and reintegration of ex-agitators.
At a news conference Sunday in Abuja, Coordinator of the forum, Wisdom Oniekpar Ikuli who was flanked by other members also set an agenda for the new sole administrator of the PAP, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio, asking him to learn from the missteps of his recent predecessors while improving on their exploits.
“Moving forward, NDNAF which is the mouthpiece of millions of people from the geographic Niger Delta States of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Rivers States urge the Federal Government, the International Oil Companies (IOCs), PTDF, SMEDAN, NDDC, donor agencies and all crucial stakeholders including friends of the Niger Delta to be more committed to the actualization of the original plan of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) especially adequate empowerment of Ex-Agitators and their proper Reintegration”, the forum demanded.
The forum which is a platform for all nonviolent agitators in the country expressed optimism that Dikio would rewrite the amnesty story.
“We are happy that President Muhammadu Buhari has given him a marching order to revive that place. What we want is to bring back the days of Kingsley Kuku because there are verifiable traces of the great things he did when he held sway”, they stated.
According to the forum, since the commencement of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) for the 30, 000 ex-combatants, the Federal Government which has seen the positive economic impacts in terms of increase in crude oil and gas production has committed enormous resources in the area of payment of monthly stipends, education and other vocational training programmes, “a positive development that has helped in capacity building and also reduced restiveness in the region”.
However, it said like other palliatives and interventionist programmes, “the Presidential Amnesty Programme has been faced with a lot of challenges including delay in release of funds, frequent sack/change of leadership, non-remittance of counterpart funds by multinationals that are even the highest beneficiaries of the relative peace in the Niger Delta, allegations of corruption, deliberate exclusion of the original ex-agitators and beneficiaries in the programme, delay in payment of tuition fees of Delegates and in-training allowances, non-deployment of eligible ex-Agitators for educational and vocational training preparatory for reintegration into society, non-payment of vendors and contractors among others”.
The forum, therefore, demanded “adequate attention for people in the impacted communities which were the major victims and sufferers of the harsh and very negative effects of the protracted Nigerian Crisis in the Niger Delta. The above is very important in the reintegration process which has to be holistic, knowing the negative signals and grave danger the non-inclusion of the victims and sufferers of these ills will pose in the near future”.
The forum hailed President Buhari for the appointment of Col. Dikio, saying the president has through the appointment demonstrated his total commitment to the sustenance of peace in the Niger Delta region which was very volatile before the proclamation of the Presidential Amnesty for Armed Agitators on 25th June, 2009 by then, President Umaru Yar’Adua, now of blessed memory.
“It is also expedient for the government and the IOCs to do something drastic and timely too about the millions of highly educated and employable but unemployed and unempowered youths who watch hopelessly and helplessly the payment of stipends and other incentives to their brothers and sisters who carried arms against the government, while their nonviolence stance remains unrewarded and unappreciated.
“We want to reiterate the fact that NDNAF is very optimistic that the appointment of Col. Milland Dixon Dikio will help to reposition the programme based on his enviable and very outstanding track record during his service in the prestigious Nigerian Army (NA) before his voluntary retirement and even his success story as a private businessman.
“As we urge for the prompt payment of monthly stipends to Delegates, introduction of more impactful training programmes to meet contemporary demands in the global labour market, payment of tuition fees and in-training allowances to Delegates, payment of vendors, contractors and necessary supports to critical stakeholders especially elders and leaders of the struggle for the emancipation cum liberation of our great people from economic and political servitude, our traditional rulers and even clergy, who are sharing the burden of the resurfacing militancy and restiveness in the Niger Delta region, we also use this rare opportunity to pass a vote of confidence on President Muhammadu Buhari and General Babagana Munguno; the National Security Adviser (NSA) for their commitment to the sustenance of peace in the region, we extend same to Col. Milland Dixon Dikio who within the short period of assumption of office has taken some drastic, sensitive, strategic and very firm steps and measures which shall help to sanitize, overhaul, reform and also reposition the programme”.
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