Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Ex-militants from the nine Niger Delta states under the Leadership Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI), has backed President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent initiatives in the region, but insisted that to sustain the peace in the region, pipelines surveillance jobs should be handled by the youths who know the terrain.
The youths who spoke during a meeting with Brig.Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd), Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, maintained that if left for rookies that do not understand the creeks of the Niger Delta, recent gains in terms of peace would be a mirage.
Acting Chairman of its Bayelsa Chapter, Bull Ifiemi and the Public Relations Officer, Godsgift Ayabowe, who led 31 other leaders of the First Phase of the amnesty programme to the meeting with Boroh, noted that while the responsibility on the shoulders of the youth leaders continue to increase, the N65,000 monthly stipend was not commensurate as ex-militantsâ€™ leaders.
However, while declaring their support for Buhari and expressing confidence in the ability of Gen. Boroh to lead the amnesty office, the group called on all ex-militants in the region to maintain peace and wait for the President to carry out his plans for the region.
They specifically lauded the presidency for the â€œvarious empowerment and agricultural development programmes going on in the regionâ€ and efforts to regularise the payment of the monthly stipend.
â€œWe plead with the presidency to consider giving the pipeline surveillance contracts to the youths in the region who know the terrain rather than channelling the contracts to persons who will end up doing little or nothing to better the region,â€ the ex-militants noted.
Also, the youths advised that the proposed modular refineries should be operated in collaboration with youths in the oil-bearing communities who are stakeholders, stressing that it will help to mitigate any grievances that may occur.
â€œIf youths are given the opportunity to be stakeholders concerning the modular refineries and the surveillance contracts, we have the assurance that no youth will be involved in any form of restiveness,â€ Ifiemi and his group said.
According to them, â€œIn the past these jobs have been given to greedy persons who selfishly neglected the youths in a bid to enrich themselves.â€
The group also pleaded with the presidency to prevail on federal parastatals, especially the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta to involve the youths of the region in their programmes.