Amidst mixed reactions to the Five-man Care Taker Committee recently set up by President Mohammandu Buhari to take over the affairs of the Presidential Amnesty office, ex-militants in the Niger Delta seem to be set trigger fresh tension in the region over what they described as failure of the Amnesty Programme, resulting in the delay of payments of their stipends and non payment of contractors.
Chairman of the third phase ex-militants, General Ebi John hinted on plans to shutdown all Government Houses across the Niger Delta in deviance to the Covid-19 nation-wide lockdown, in addition to mobilizing a minimum of 5000 youths to storm the office of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Omo- Agege to find out his efforts towards curbing the ongoing fraud and unprecedented rot in the Amnesty office and other burning tissues affecting the region.
Speaking with newsmen in Yenagoa, Wednesday, General John called on all foremost ex-militant leaders and initiators of the Amnesty deal to prevail on President Buhari to appoint a substantive coordinator for the programme without further delay to allay the fears of the beneficiaries and stakeholders.
General John, who specifically appealed to former President Goodluck Jonathan and current Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who pioneered the Amnesty deal to quickly intervene and save the ugly situation on ground before things get out of hands.
He expressed displeasure with Chief Sylva for his nonchalant attitude towards happenings in the Amnesty Programme, adding that having played pioneering role in the Amnesty Programme, expectations were high that the Minister of State for petroleum resources would quickly intervene and advised Mr. President to do the needful, but uptill now no visible effort has come from Chief Sylva.
General John also urged ex-militants like Tom Polo, Gen. Boyloaf, Chief Tom Ateke, Pastor Reuben, Young Shall Grow, Joshua Macaiver and Africa Ukparasia who also played major roles in midwifing the Amnesty Programme not to fold their hands and allow the Programme sink.
He regretted that the impact of the care taker committee has not been felt by stakeholders, saying that stipends are not paid as at when due, while contractors in the programme languishing in hunger as the care taker committee has refused to pay them up till now, making life more difficult for people of the Niger Delta region during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The ex-militant leader further called on the care taker committee to make its findings public and punish persons that are culpable to give way for the appointment of a substantive coordinator for the programme to allay the fears that the committee has come with another hidden agenda of scraping the Amnesty Programme.
The third phase leader used the medium to appeal to the governors in the region to pick interest in the Amnesty Programme and ensure that the beneficiaries are properly sensitised and mobilised to achieve smooth reintegration process.
He reiterated the urgent need for the initiators and foremost leaders in the scheme to rise to the occasion and save the programme, pointing out that the programme was suffering and needed serious attention from the founding fathers.
He said the amnesty programme was suffering because of the neglect it is receiving recently from those who were supposed to supervise it.
“Most of our politicians, when it has to do with their personal project you never hear of such projects being abandoned except for public projects, they are usually abandoned halfway.
“So am calling on our father, former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and current minister of state for petroleum resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, they were the persons whose pioneering efforts brought about the programme, so they should not let it die, being their own brain child.
“And also appealing to our big ex-militant leaders like, Chief Tom Polo, Asari Dokubo, Boyloaf, His Majesty, Ateke Tom, General Africa, Joshua Macaiver, Pastor Reuben, Ogunbos and the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) among all others I may not be able to mention now, to come out and say something about the programme to save it from its current decay because they were the persons who gave consent to the Amnesty deal.
“It is because of their silence that the rot has been allowed it to degenerate to where we are now.
“The programme is already nose diving because the programme is not run properly. As am talking to you the contractors are suffering. Yet we were told the Amnesty office has over 15 billion naira, if not more and yet the contractors are not paid.
“The care taker committee should as a matter of urgency, pay the contractors as most of them are dying in abject poverty.
“Outside payment of the contractors, the stipends of these boys should not be delayed to avoid unforeseen circumstances. We are enjoying
relative peace in the region. When the crisis starts, investors will not come into the region again.
“A lot of people are also being misinformed about the programme. The
Amnesty Programme is not just meant for only 30,000 ex-militants, rather, the programme also has provision for youth from crisis impacted communities in the region.
“Therefore if these youths from these communities are carried along in the scheme of things, violence will become a thing of the past,General stated.
He also called on the state governors to pick interest in the Amnesty Programme as its impact is felt in the states.