The December deadline set by President Muhammadu Buhari for the termination of the presidential amnesty programme for ex- militants in the Niger Delta has drawn the ire of Niger Delta youths and former militants, with the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, and ex-militants under the aegis of Third Phase Amnesty, faulting the deadline.
IYC expressed disappointment that the President failed to address key issues dear to the Niger Delta such as clean up of the environment, implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP report on Ogoni and tackling the menace of oil theft which has greatly contributed to environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region which he promised to tackle during his presidential campaigns.
The Ijaw youth body, in a statement by its spokesman, Eric Omare, said: “We appreciate the fact that the amnesty programme cannot continue forever and therefore, must have a terminal date.
However, the questions on the lips of beneficiaries and stakeholders in the Niger Delta are: What would happen to those that have not been trained as at December, 2015 and those still undergoing training or have not completed their training?
“Terminating the programme will throw up challenges for beneficiaries of the programme who are still undergoing training and are at different levels of their training. We expect the Federal Government to address the fear of these classes of ex-agitators who are in different parts of the world and are worried that their trainings may be affected if the programme is terminated in December, 2015.
“The case of a substantial number of ex-agitators who have not been trained is even more worrisome. We call on the Buhari government to address these challenges before the programme is terminated.”
On their part, the Third Phase Amnesty ex-militants in a statement by their National Secretary, Tam Odogwu, described the statement as shocking, noting that the programme has contributed immensely to the relative peace and stability in the Niger Delta region, which has boosted the production and exportation of crude oil.
He said the that Niger Delta ex-agitators congratulate President Buhari for his smooth and peaceful swearing-in ceremony in Abuja.
“Indeed, it was victory for Nigerians and Nigeria in the comity of nations.
“Nevertheless, we are shocked by the statement made by Buhari as regards the Niger Delta. We want to unequivocally state here that we reject the deadline of terminating amnesty programme by December 2015.
“We are very ready to support Buhari’s administration but we will not support the plan to end the amnesty programme and will resist any attempt to do so because it will mean another round of injustice.”