Sylvester Idowu in Warri
A group under the auspices of Ijaw Oil and Gas has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu to save the Niger Delta from returning to the era prior to 2009 by replacing the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Major-General Barry Ndiomu (rtd) now.
Ijaw Oil and Gas group, in a letter sent to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and signed by its National Coordinator, Ebipams Johnny, alleged that the Amnesty programme, as superintendent by the Interim Administrator, Major-General Ndiomu had lost its effectiveness in disarming, rehabilitating and reintegrating former militants and agitators into the society as expected.
The letter, a copy made available to THISDAY yesterday, read thus: “Do not let the Niger Delta region be engulfed in turmoil due to your incompetence and corrupt practices. The Amnesty program, led by Maj-Gen Barry Ndiomu (Rtd), has lost its effectiveness in disarming, rehabilitating, and reintegrating former militants and agitators into society.
“This has led to dissatisfaction among the youths in the Niger Delta, particularly in the light of recent events in Rivers State and the upcoming Bayelsa State elections. It is evident that Ndiomu’s interim tenure has long expired, both in terms of ideas and the delay in reintegrating these youths, especially considering the economic challenges in the country”, it stated.
The group recalled the turbulent era prior to 2009 when the former leader of defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo led other agitators to revolt against the marginalisation and underdevelopment of the region leading to the introduction of the Amnesty Programme which returned peace to the region.
It wondered whether the objectives for which the Amnesty Programme was established were being achieved noting that Major-General Ndiomu derailed from the intentions behind the purpose of the exercise by engaging in sundry issues outside its mandate.
“This is a strong appeal to the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, and the President to prevent a return to the turbulent conditions experienced prior to 2009, when Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo led other agitators and initiated peace in the region. It is crucial to emphasize that, given the current economic challenges and ongoing events in the Niger Delta, it would be prudent not to politicize an office that is vital for promoting peace and development in Nigeria.
“The corruption allegations, contract manipulation, and self-serving lobbying for appointments within the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) marred that agency’s operations. Regrettably, a similar pattern is now unfolding within the Amnesty office, and this is having a detrimental impact by fueling chaos, violence, and renewed agitations among former agitators.
“These ex-agitators are increasingly frustrated, given the rising oil prices in the global market and increased crude oil production in Nigeria. Instead of proper reintegration, Gen Ndiomu (Rtd) seems to be more involved in political maneuvering and lobbying, using funds that were meant for the youths’ reintegration, reminiscent of a political affiliation or campaign
“We absolutely do not want a repeat of the violence witnessed in 2019; we need a secured environment for offshore drilling rigs and production platforms. Therefore, it’s imperative for the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, to take proactive measures by appointing a highly competent individual. This person should be someone with a deep understanding of the Niger Delta’s concerns, as appointing an inexperienced individual could exacerbate existing issues”, it added.