President Muhammadu Buhari has been called upon to provide adequate funding to cater for the conclusion of training and resettlement of beneficiaries of the amnesty programme in the Niger Delta.
Chairman of Grassroots Initiative for Peace and Social Orientation, Richard Akinaka, one of the coordinators and facilitators of the programme who addressed the press yesterday on some national issues said the piecemeal implementation of the programme had enabled some groups that fall outside the amnesty bracket to agitate for inclusion.
Such agitations he said had further elongated the programme with its attendant cost to the federal government which was avoidable.
According to him, if the programme had progressed as planned by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who voted a lump sum to conclude the programme within two years, groups that fell outside the target of the federal government would not have infiltrated it.
“The programme is not an open-ended programme, it is a programme for a particular number of persons that quickly need to be trained, set up and be reunited back to the society and as such, the earlier the government makes available resources for the programme to be urgently phased out, the better for the government because the more they delay the conclusion of the programme by inadequate appropriations, the more you cost government more money.
“From the beginning, if adequate funds were made available, it would not have taken three years to conclude, but because of the issue of funding, the programme keep delaying thereby giving opportunity for those who were not part of the amnesty programme to smuggle themselves into the process”, he lamented.
Akinaka observed that the original plan was abandoned by President Goodluck Jonathan who was from the region, which he opined added to his failures like inability to complete the East-west Road project, failure of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to execute developmental projects in the region and the conclusion of the amnesty programme.
To him, the best approach was to vote adequate funds to conclude the programme after finding out from the Coordinator what it would take to wind it down.
On the spate of attacks by herdsmen across the country, Akinaka insisted that it was wrong for farmers to be attacked in their farms and their crops destroyed and asked the federal government to live up to its responsibility of protecting the people.
On the interim, he advocated for the farmers and communities to protect themselves from attacks before the federal government would step in, asking, “If I am in my house and someone armed breaks into my house to kill me and members of my family, should I not protect my family and myself with anything I have?
He warned that it was a touchy issue capable of causing severe security concern and which should be urgently handled.
On the grazing bill currently raising dust, he opposed the acquisition of land for grazing, pointing out that herdsmen were carrying out their private business of raising and selling their animals and that since they did not give them out to Nigerians, no aspect of it should be taken over or provided for with public funds.
Akinaka further asked if President Buhari who had a ranch did not buy his land to raise his animals and wondered why he wanted the herdsmen differently treated.
On the Bill in Kaduna State to regulate religious activities which required a preacher to be licensed, he counseled Governor El-Rufai to withdraw the bill as it was offensive to the sensibilities of other religions, adding that he should resist being used to fight a faith war in the state.
He said the unassailable performance of El-Rufai as FCT Minister endeared him to many and that playing a religious card could deflate the good reputation he had built, more so when Kaduna State was known for its religious tension between Christians and Muslims.