Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa
The Chairman of the Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers and the paramount ruler of Ekpetiama Kingdom, King Bubaraye Dakolo and the Vice President of the Umbrella body of Ijaw Elders, Ijaw National Congress (INC), Chief Nengi James Eriworio have kicked against the alleged plan by the federal government to scrap the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
They both agreed that the PAP has contributed to the unity of Nigeria, sustained the peace in the Niger Delta region with increased volumes of oil and gas production and assisted the federal government in generating excess revenues of over $300 billion USD from the sales of oil and gas products within the past twelve years.
While King Dakolo commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the appointment of the new Interim Administrator, Major General Barry Ndiomu (rtd), he noted the PAP should be sustained so that the youths of the region will have more opportunity to be trained and empowered to become useful citizens in the region.
Eriworio, who is also the Bayelsa State Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), argued that, “despite the challenges of control and misapplication of priorities in terms of training and funding, the PAP should be sustained because the PAP assists thousands of families and youths across the Niger Delta region which produces majority of the natural resources that has continually sustained the country, and that the region remains the major source for Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.
“The PAP has also assisted in areas of Manpower development, Entrepreneurial skills among the Niger Delta youths, and in sustaining the peace for oil and gas expatriates to operate freely across the region.”
Dakolo and Eriworio, in a separate interview in Yenagoa, stated that attempt to scrap the program may renew agitation and hostilities in the region.
Dakolo said: “While thanking President Buhari for the appointment of our capable son into the programme at this point in history, we want to call that the Presidential Amnesty Programme be sustained, so that the teeming youths in the region who are still suffering from one form of displacement or unemployment are properly trained and empowered for the future of the region.
“These youths will have a reason and an opportunity to be properly trained to become more useful citizens of the Niger Delta region and Nigeria at large.
“That is because once these young men are not properly trained or groomed, they are going to be available for all kinds of evil machinations.
“I think the programme needs to be sustained. It has been around for a while, but it is yet to achieve its total objective for which it was established due to external political influence. Now that we have a new person on board, the Presidency needs to allow him to steer the ship without politicizing the programme and enable him to display his capacity at actualising the Amnesty purpose under President Buhari.
“Those calling for the scrapping of PAP may not have done a proper appraisal on issues of insecurity and the mismanagement of oil and gas resources from the region.”