Critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta region wednesday insisted that despite the good intention behind the federal government’s amnesty programme, it is not the final solution to the challenges of the region.
This was the collective position taken by notable leaders from the region wednesday during a stakeholders meeting held in Lagos at the behest of the office of the Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo.
Leaders, including former military governor of Rivers State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Gbobo Bobmanuel, former Nigerian ambassador to Scandinavian countries, Dr. Godknows Igali, Prof. GG Darah of the Literature in English Department, Delta State University and evironmental rights activist and Convener, Niger-Delta Self-Determination Movement (NDSDM), Ann Kio-Briggs, noted that the amnesty programme is not the solution to Niger Delta problem.
Earlier, Dokubo had urged the people to actively take possession of the federal government’s amnesty as a vehicle to facilitate peace, security and development in the region.
Noting that his predecessors had completed aspects of the disarmament and demobilisation of ex-agitators, Dokubo said the most important task before him is the integration of the disarmed persons.
“Before I assumed office, the disarmament and demobilisation of ex-agitators had been completed in three phases. I am however privileged to continue with the very critical reintegration phase of the programme. The reintegration phase largely entails providing the ex-agitators with either vocational training or formal education,” he said.
He said out of the 30, 000 persons enlisted in the presidential amnesty programme, 11, 297 persons were still in the queue, waiting to be placed in either vocational training facilities or sent to tertiary institutions for formal education.
On the Ondo State issue, he said the state would only be captured on the programme after a proclamation from the president .
While appreciating the amnesty programme and also observing that the Niger Delta region is being deprived on its legitimate rights, Diete-Spiff was rather unhappy about gas flaring in the region.
Another reputable traditional ruler, King Bobmanuel, said: “Restructuring is the way to go as it will entail finding the better ways to do things. It never meant the breaking up of the country but rather, it is a way to get things done in a better manner and I think everybody should come on board and find ways and means for us to do things better so that we can progress.”
On her part, Briggs said the amnesty programme was not what the Niger Delta people really required, stressing that “The amnesty programme cannot answer the demand of the Niger Delta people.”
Describing the amnesty programme as one of the processes of resolving conflicts in the Niger Delta, Prof Dara insisted that “It does not have capacity to resolve the essential problems in the region, which has to do with resource ownership and controls.”