‘FG’s Plan to Substitute Amnesty Programme for Pipeline Surveillance Contract Vexatious’

Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa

Niger Delta Stakeholders have described as “unreasonable and vexatious” plan by the federal government to substitute the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) with the crude oil pipeline Contract recently awarded to former militant leaders from the region, warning that the plan could trigger another rounds of agitation and frustrate the campaign against oil theft in the region.

The stakeholders, made up of traditional rulers, elders, women groups, youth groups, former militant leaders and other stakeholders from across the Niger Delta region, said the plan to swap the programme for crude oil pipeline Surveillance contract was revealed by the Interim Administrator of PAP, Maj. Gen. Tariye Ndiomu (rtd.) during a “Presidential Mandate Briefing” with employees of the programme on 5th October 2022 at the Sheraton Resort, FCT. Abuja.

According to the stakeholders, Ndiomu was quoted as saying his mandate was to urgently terminate the PAP in exchange for the pipeline surveillance contract, and directed staff of PAP to immediately commence the process of winding down, prior to the expiration of his tenure on March 1, 2023, approximately 90 days before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure on May 29, 2023.

In a statement by Chief Maxwell Ayamabele, the stakeholders condemned the actions and steps taken so far by the interim administrator, and termed his action as “inexperienced, naïve, and disrespectful to all traditional rulers, women, youth leaders and former militant leaders that participated in the Amnesty process, as well as those, who convinced the former militant leaders that are now the founding fathers of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, and thousands of their foot-soldiers to accept the amnesty offer, and signed the accord with the federal government under the leadership of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua.

The statement read: “Since Gen. Ndiomu’s appointment, the smooth operations of the Amnesty programme has shattered, causing serious tension across the region due to Ndiomu’s so-called presidential mandate to urgently terminate the Amnesty programme in exchange for the pipeline surveillance contract.

“Gen. Ndiomu failed to meet with the relevant stakeholders that fought for the establishment of the Presidential Amnesty Programme to brief them and the people in the region about the reasons behind his plans to urgently terminate a programme that directly and indirectly benefits over a million families across the Niger Delta region.

“While at the same time, the presidency is utilising billions of naira exploited from the Niger Delta region to train and rehabilitate repentant Boko-Haram terrorists, and Islamic States of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists that have killed and maimed thousands of innocent Nigerians while millions of Nigerians are displaced by the actions of these terrorists.

“May we remind Ndiomu that upon President Muhammadu Buhari assuming office in 2015, and without wasting anytime, in July 2015, the federal government obtained a $2.1 billion USD credit from the World Bank to rebuild the North-East zone devastated by their so-called repentant Boko-Haram terrorists, and Islamic States of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists that have killed and maimed thousands of innocent Nigerians with millions of Nigerians displaced by the actions of these terrorists.

“Since then, the Presidency has continued to spend billions of dollars more in the North-Eastern region that financially contributes almost zero to our nation’s treasury. Whereas the Presidential Amnesty Programme that have 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 $300billion USD from the sales of oil and gas products within the past twelve years, has not seen the amount of money that has been poured into the North-Eastern region since the inception of the PAP,” the statement added.

Ayamabele, therefore, cautioned Ndiomu to desist from his plan to forcefully reduce the number of Amnesty beneficiaries in the different camps by almost 50 per cent, from 30,000 ex-militants to 15,000, stating that such an illegal act would surely be resisted, and would be seen as a fraudulent ploy to enable Ndiomu reallocate the monthly stipend payments to thousands of legitimate Amnesty beneficiaries for himself prior to leaving office.

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