By Deji Elumoye
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has added his voice to the growing opposition to the reported move by the federal government to scrap the 11 year-old Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) for repentant former Niger Delta militants.
This brings to two the number of people that have openly canvassed against the reported plan by the Presidency to scrap the amnesty programme with effect from December 2020.
An Elder Statesman, Chief Edwin Clarke, warned the government against scrapping the PAP because it would truncate the restive peace pervading the Niger Delta region.
Omo-Agege lent his voice to the issue when he hosted a socio-political organisation, the New Era Forum, in Abuja by calling on the federal government to shelve the alleged plans to scrap the PAP for ex-agitators in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “I don’t think that the timing is right for the amnesty programme to be scrapped. We have challenges right now in the North East, the ravages of Boko Haram, banditry in North West and North Central. Those are enough challenges already in this country. I don’t believe that this is the time to reawaken the agitations of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
“It is my hope and expectation that the policy makers who are around Mr. President will convey this to him that to the extent that there is any such plan at this time, it is premature and ill-timed. That is not to say that this programme must stay in perpetuity. But we don’t believe that its goals have been completely achieved,”
He urged the group to come up with a new narrative about holding leaders in the region to account, adding that leaders in the region have failed,
“I have been privy to all of the budgetary estimates that were passed both in the Eighth Assembly and in the Ninth Assembly. And all that we are entitled to as a region has been given to us. But we have failed Mr. President because we have not been able to hold to account those to whom these resources have been entrusted. You don’t expect Mr. President moving from community to community to ensure that the funding made available to us have been judiciously utilised. It is up to us as the people of the region to ask questions on how the funding released to us has been utilised?