You Should Own Amnesty Programme For Your Children To Benefit, Ndiomu Tells Ex-Agitators


Following complaints neglect by majority of Niger Delta ex-agitators, the new Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Maj. Gen. Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd) has told the ex-agitators to work closely with the Presidential Amnesty Office to redesign the programme to be inclusive to enable them reap from their sacrifices to restore peace in the Niger Delta region.

Maj. Gen. Idiomu (rtd) stated this when he met with leaders of phase 1, 2 and 3 of the Presidential Amnesty Programme in separate meetings in Port Harcourt on Sunday, lamenting that rather than becoming key beneficiaries, they have been shortchanged and with nothing to show for their sacrifices which birthed the programme.

He reiterated the urgent need for the ex-agitators to collaborate with his office to rework the programme in such way that it will directly benefit the delegates and their own children substantially, having paid the prize for peace in the Niger Delta region by heeding to the federal government’s call to voluntarily submit their arms to accept the amnesty offer.

“There are a lot of misgivings in the way and manner the programme is being handled. Many of you are not feeling the impact of the programme, while a few others are feeding fat in the name of the programme. If they call you ex-agitators, that means you should be the first persons to benefit from the programme before any other because of the huge sacrifices you made to restore peace in the Niger Delta region.

“That you are not benefitting from the programme implies that the programme needs to be redesigned in such a way that it can benefit you, hence the need to re-evaluate and rejig the programme to make it more beneficial to you. Therefore, I want you to buy the idea and think of the next steps that we can collectively take to make this programme more impactful in the region.

“With your inputs, we can work together to find lasting solutions to the myriad of challenges that the programme is currently facing. We need to look at some ways of transforming the amnesty programme into an agency that will be more inclusive in terms benefits to the ex-agitators and by extension, to the people of the Niger Delta region.

“We will revisit the programme again to redesign it. From your complaints here, it is clear that the amnesty programme has been diluted with strange names. While you are alive and you are not even benefitting from what you fought by endangering your lives.

“We have to work together to actualise the original vision of the programme. We will work with you to bring about positive changes that will benefit all of you.

“I like to use this medium to inform you that the federal government has no plans to replace the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) with the ongoing pipeline surveillance contracts as is being speculated in some quarters. We must find solution to the challenges bevelling the programme. Your sacrifices should not go in vain.

“I want to assure that we will be in the Niger Delta region more often than in Abuja. Going forward, you will be made to actively participate in the redesigning of the programme. This programme will transit into a better scheme that will be more inclusive”, Maj. Gen. Idiomu reiterated.

He expressed dissatisfaction with the success story of the programme with all the vocational skills training centres not yet completed after several years of award contracts to build for vocational skills training programmes, saying that the programme should be organised in such a way that can accommodate specialised competencies that will meet the requirements of the employers, with particular reference to the oil and gas industry and related sectors.

There is the urgent need to redesign the programme along the natural skills and occupation and occupation of our people. We want to be fully involved in all economic activities across the Niger Delta region. Our people are naturally good in fishing, aquaculture, agriculture and can be fully engaged in the blue economy, including such areas like diving, underwater welding and general maritime operations.

“Just sitting down to collect 65 thousand naira monthly could even encourage laziness among our young people. We should be clever enough to be able to participate in the oil and gas sector by acquiring the necessary skills that are needed to engage in the oil and gas sector. So many contracts have been awarded over the years by the the Presidential Amnesty office that have not yielded the desired impact.

He said his consultation with key stakeholders in the region, including politicians have all shared the same view, lamenting that the situation of the maritime training centre in Obuama, vocational skills training centres in Kaiama, Bomadi, Gele and Ondo states need to be reassessed.

“There should be regular communication between the Presidential Amnesty Programme Office in Abuja and the leadership of the programme. We need to work together to achieve set objectives to make it more inclusive. There has been some sort of conspiracy and generational collaboration that may have affected impact of the programme. We are trying to prone the list. We all have to work together so as to achieve the mandate of the programme.

“We will not withdraw the current scholarship beneficiaries from their school as they have been already deployed. But fresh scholarships have to be suspended for now until we are able to clear the huge debt burden we inherited. Originally, the programme was to last for just five years but now we have spent about 12 twelve years. There is something not right about the programme.

“Though the programme was designed to accommodate all Niger Delta people but you are the first priority to be considered. There are complaints of the programme being hijacked by some powerful persons.

“When you call something a programme, it implies that it cannot last forever. If it must continue, we must eliminate those things that have prevented us from utilising the resources for our benefits.

We have built vocational centres, but non is functional. If they were up and running, they would have been of immense benefits to the people of the region.

“You don’t need to be well educated to benefit from such vocational skill training centres. This failure has necessitated the reconsideration or reevaluation of the programme for the benefit of all, particularly you the primary beneficiaries. When we blow up pipelines, we are rather destroying ourselves while some among us are smiling to the banks.

Take your destinies in your hands and We will continue have these engagements. Sooner or later you will work with us and we will work with you as partners. Crude oil theft must be stopped for the benefit of our people. Let us work together as partners. I will not use and dump you, rather, we will work together to effect the necessary changes in the programme.

“Talking about a common fund to assist one another, you can even get soft loans with time, with proper coordination. There should be a proper welfare scheme to benefit the delegates. Therefore, I plead with you to exercise little patience with the office.

“We have to bring this programme closer to you. We have gotten too academic in this programme such that the main beneficiaries (ex-agitators) are being shortchanged over time.

We have suspended all scholarships awards because of the debt burden amounting to seven billion naira while vocational training has gulped about 4.5 billion. If you have a revolving fund that properly managed, you will not be complaining here as ex-agitators. I will work with your leaders. Be united”, Maj. Gen. Ndiomu stated.

In their separate remarks, chairmen of Phases1, 2 and 3 of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, HRH Henry Binidodogha (Chairman, Phase 1), Associate Tambo (Chairman, Phase 2) and Tonye Bobo (Chairman, Phase 3) respectively lamented how they have been shortchanged in the programme that they sacrificed for and willingly submitted their arms for the sake for peace in the Niger Delta region and Nigeria.

They expressed hope that the new Interim Administrator will match words with actions by implementing his good intentions for the ex-agitators and the region by extension.

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