By Binebai Princewill
A renowned Niger Delta Youth leader cum philanthropist, Amb. John Dekawei has written to president Muhammadu Buhari, making critical case for the urgent appointment of a substantive amnesty coordinator in the Niger Delta region to coordinate the office.
The Niger Delta leading humanitarian young leader made the call earlier today in Abuja, the headquater of Nigeria while addressing youths of the region, for which a copy of the statement was sent to The Liberator Newspaper.
Amb. Dekawei noted that the delay in the appointment of a substantive coordinator from the Ijaw ethnic nationality is already breeding bad blood in the region as the Amnesty office is not meant to be coordinated by someone out of the region for this long.
While hailing president Muhammadu Buhari for listening to the plights of Niger Deltans, Dekawei had pleaded with President Buhari to once again prove his love for the people of Niger Delta by listening to their cries in appointing a worthy and credible Niger Deltan to pilot the affairs of the office.
He noted that the office has been existing under interim for too long, stressing that the Amnesty Programme was primarily established to take care of the former ex -agitators and to add more value towards the growth and development of the region, maintaining that putting it under interim for this long negates all known theories of justice, fairness and egalitarianism.
In his words: “The presidential Amnesty Programme commenced on Thursday, July 11, 2009 when a proclamation of amnesty for Niger Delta militants who had engaged in the armed struggle for a better deal in the nation’s oil gains. In granting unconditional amnesty for the agitators, the late Yar’Adua opened a window for a period of 60 days for the agitators to lay down their arms in exchange for amnesty as a step towards redressing the adverse security situation in the oil rich Niger Delta region which had almost brought the nation’s economy to its knees. The measure was also aimed at stabilizing, consolidating and maintaining security in the region as a pre-requisite for promoting economic development. He was right on target.
“Years later, the Presidential Amnesty Programme [PAP], it’s indeed a new dawn with a bright future. Prior to the proclamation of amnesty when guns boomed in the creeks of the Niger Delta, Nigeria lost over one million barrels of crude oil per day [bpd] estimated to be about N8.7 billion [$58m] as at May 2009. This followed a drastic reduction of the daily crude oil production figure from 2.2 million bpd to an abysmal 700,000 bpd when the Niger Delta insurgency reached a boiling point in January 2009. The cut in oil production had earlier robbed the country of over $20 billion in 2008, just as the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas [NLNG] reportedly lost over $2 billion in 2009. The toll was not limited to the economy as over 1000 lives were said to have been lost in 2008 alone, while 128 persons were allegedly kidnapped within one year [January 2008 to January 2009].
“As the crises raged, production and construction firms which were working in the area including Wilbros, Michelin, Julius Berger, as well as small and medium scale enterprises [SMEs] laid off their workers in the Niger Delta and pulled out of the region, a situation that led to the stalling of the East-West Road project for over two years. These had disastrous consequences on the nation and its citizens as several other multinational companies relocated not only from the area but also from Nigeria. The country lost billions of Naira that would have accrued from oil revenue to the Federation Account, even as oil and gas companies which remained in the region with a resolve to weather the storm were compelled to cough out a whopping $3 billion annually to secure their facilities and installations, as critical infrastructure, especially pipelines, became targets of serial attack. Again, this propelled the slamming of an outrageous $90 million p.a. premium Marine War Risk Insurance for cargo into Nigeria.” The revered Niger Delta Youth leader, Amb. John Dekawei had stated.
“Against the backdrop of a vision to transform the ex-combatants from militancy to gainful employment and ultimately change agents, captains of the PAP adopted the United Nations [UN] –prescribed Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration [DDR] intervention model, but developed a home-grown process which has become a global reference point.
“The initial disarmament and documentation process spanned a period of 60 days between August/October 2009, and involved all known militant groups in the Niger Delta, with 20,192; 6,166, and 3,642 ex-agitators disarmed in the first, second and final phases respectively, in an exercise which is arguably the most successful disarmament exercise in the history of DDR in Africa. The recovered arms and ammunition including explosives, light and heavy weapons, were publicly destroyed at a designated site at Lokpanta, Enugu State, on May 25, 2011.
“Pursuant to its mandate, the Presidential Amnesty Programme entered the next phase of demobilization via engagement of the ex-agitators in a non-violence transformation training geared towards erasing their belief in violence and offering them nonviolence as a veritable alternative to achieving development and progress in the Niger Delta. The ex-agitators are currently in various stages of reintegration.
“Remarkably, women were also involved in the process, with 822 of them participating in the Amnesty Programme. Interestingly, some of the women were at the demobilization camp with their children, just as there were a few child births during their participation in camp. But their attendance of the transformation camp was restricted to batches 1, 11 and 12, to allow for the kind of special attention required of their gender.”
However, Amb. John had stated that his call for the immediate appointment of a substantive coordinator in the Amnesty office is done purely out of his own conscience and volition as he is not endorsing or recommending any particular person for the office, stressing that the Ijaw nation remains one big family.
He particularly urged President Muhammadu Buhari to choose from the multifaceted credible leaders of the Niger Delta region jostling for the top notch position, adding that each one of them is capable of handling the office.
Amb. John Dekawei is President general of the revered Niger Delta Socio Cultural group under the aegis of Delta Ijaw Youth Movement for Political Advancement (DIYMPA), raising the banner of good governance in Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.
Meanwhile, It would be recalled that Amb. John Dekawei is the founder and chairman of the John Dekawei Foundation (JDF), a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) he has used in transforming the lives of many across the World.