A United Kingdom-based civil advocacy group, Stakeholders Democracy Network (SDN), yesterday expressed concern over the rising threats against the implementation of the amnesty policy of the Federal Government in the Niger Delta region, warning that there were clear indications that some persons were putting together new breakaway groups to reactivate militancy in the region.
The group said that though the ongoing amnesty as implemented by the Kingsley Kuku- led committee had shown endearing qualities, the amnesty programme has failed to show a clear direction with reported frustration among some small groups of youths.
The country director of the group, Mr. Inemo Samiama, in a monthly bulletin of the group which was sent to newsmen yesterday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, said reports gathered by the group indicated that in some areas, the discipline of registered former militants seems to be holding while others were showing signs of discontent, and warned that such frustrated groups could return to militancy.
According to the group, “More explicitly, there is, clearly, growing anger amongst youths who are not part of the formal amnesty process. Little has changed in the broader initiatives in the Niger Delta where development initiatives are too often failing to address the fundamentals in rural areas. Among the most serious issues is the failure to stimulate any significant youth employment or local economic development. “
“This is given rise to fresh groups of disaffected youths actively considering taking up militancy in order to get the political attention that their predecessors secured. The protests which occurred on the edge of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on September 6 where the inter-state east west road was blocked by protesters, is a small visible manifestation of this serious risk.
“The significance of new youths entering into militancy is not to be understated. Weapons are already widely available and there is a strong risk that newcomers would face conflict with armed ‘ex-militants’ already allied with government. This is precisely the triangular conflict that swiftly evolved and worsened in Rivers State in 2004, with very little overt warning.”
The SDN expressed optimism of a quick resolution of rising fears and concern over growing discontent among ex-militant youths and said that government could not afford an additional conflict to the ones in the northern states.