Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
A group of ex-militants from the nine oil-producing states in the Niger Delta on Tuesday stated that the delayed payment of stipends to beneficiaries of the federal government’s Amnesty Programme was capable of fuelling crimes in the region.

The ex-agitators under the auspices of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI), led by  former ‘Gen’ Reuben Wilson (aka, Pastor Reuben) and Nature Kieghe, National Secretary, made their position known in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

“We are still pleading with the Presidency to take a critical look into the issues of late salary payments of monthly stipends to the amnesty beneficiaries.

“The delay of these payments is working against the peace we are preaching because these boys tend to go into criminality in order to make ends meet due to lack of payments,” the group said.

The former agitators reiterated their support for Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd), the Amnesty Coordinator, noting that in a short time, the former military officer has piloted the affairs of the programme well.

They warned “greedy and selfish politicians” to  hands-off the programme and allow it run its course.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for initially extending the Amnesty programme, the youths called for a further extension till 2019.

“We are also appealing that the date be extended to 2019 to give enough time for the beneficiaries of the programme studying abroad to conclude their various educational programmes.

“This will also make time for those who are yet to undergo their various skill acquisition trainings to commence and conclude before the expiration of the programme,” the LPCDI said.

They also urged the President to extend an olive branch to “some of our brothers who are still in the creeks and are willing to embrace the programme,” it noted.

The group added: “We wish to use this medium to condemn the pipeline bombings in Delta and Bayelsa States. We advise all concerned to stop such dastardly act as it will only bring the region back to its dark days and ultimately hinder any form of development in the area.

“We call on all our Niger Delta brothers and sisters to be more patient with the President as he needs more time to carry out his positive developments for the region.
“Finally, it is also very important here to commend the efforts of our military, under the leadership of the Lt. Gen. Tukur Burutai.

“He has gallantly piloted the affairs of the military and this is evident in the way and manner they have dissipated the Boko Haram group in the North and also in the way the military is handling the issues in the Niger Delta region,” it said.