Ahead of the full implementation of the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) in 2022, civil society organisations have implored President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately appoint a permanent head for the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
Making the call at a news conference in Abuja, a coalition of civil society organisations under the aegis of Peace For Niger Delta (PND) said this has become necessary for the continued sustenance of peace in the Niger Delta region.
Specifically, PND asked President Buhari to immediately change the leadership of PAP from an interim administrator to presidential adviser to the president on Presidential Amnesty Programme.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Chief Douglas Charles, said a permanent adviser should be picked to handle the operations of the PAP and coordinate the thousands of the ex-agitators who are already getting agitated over the seemingly lack of attention to their needs.
“At this crucial time that a new dawn has birthed in the petroleum industry with the historic signing into law of the PIA by Mr President, the Niger Delta region doesn’t need any form of crisis from ex-agitators because of their stipends or monies for training and entrepreneurships programs.
“Mr President’s historic signing of the PIA is a welcome development for the oil sector and a gateway to transforming the region. A new head of the PAP on permanent appointment would help the ex-agitators break away from the fetters of dependency and crime.
“The job of the PAP is to transform ex-agitators into entrepreneurs and/or employable citizens who will become net contributors to the economy of the region and the country through effective collaboration with relevant public and private institutions and state governments in the region.
“We therefore call on Mr President to restore the mandate of the Amnesty Programme to its original intent and take service to the Niger Delta where the ex-agitators are domiciled by training the ex-agitators to become entrepreneurs who will act as agents of change to reverse the narrative of a people dependent on stipends but to self-actualised employers of labour and net contributors to the economic prosperity of the Niger Delta,” Charles said.
He further stated that the coalition was confident that a change of PAP leadership was rife and is in the offing as the president is interested in the peace, security and development of the Niger Delta region.
He called on all the 30,000 ex-agitators under the Amnesty Programme to have confidence in the Buhari administration as they are confident that the desired change that will usher in effective leadership for the PAP will come in no distant time.
“All ex-agitators must continue to keep the peace that has existed in the region since 2015 while government is doing its best to keep to its own side of the Amnesty Programme,” he added.