Friday, August 28, 2020

WHY MR. PRESIDENT SHOULD CONSIDER NOT TO SCRAP THE PRESIDENTIAL ARMNESTY PROGRAM- GODWIN OBIRE .


The Niger Delta region has been plagued by simmering grievances that blossomed over time into a popular insurgency against the Nigerian state and multinational oil companies. Indigenous communities have been adversely affected by oil extraction, with the destruction of local livelihoods, this is what led to the creation of presidential amnesty program by late President Umaru Musa yar'adua in the year 2009 to instill peace in the region.

Rumors were rife, that the four-man Investigative Panel headed by Amb. A. A. Lawal, set up by Federal Government, through Office of the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Mohammed Monguno (retd), to look into the activities of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), has recommended the scrapping of the Programme by December this year, 2020. If true, such a move will be capable of truncating the fragile peace in the region.

I appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, not to go on with the alleged plan of scrapping the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the program has really impacted positively on the lives of Niger Delta youth in many ways, hence has brought peace to the region since inception.

We are aware the program was not created to stay in perpetuity but we can not underestimate the fact, set goal for creation of the presidential amnesty program has not been completely achieved and it is an ill-time for the program to be scrapped as it will reawaken agitation of the Niger Delta ex militant.

While it is commonly believed that the amnesty program has promoted stability in oil production and operations in the Niger Delta region since inception, there are underlying socio-political contradictions that undermine its effectiveness and credibility with such fact. I will advise the president should shun considering alleged scrapping of the program and appoint competent technocrat as coordinator of PAP, that can be effective and credible in service delivery these will improve performance of the program reduce needless tension, rambling, bickering and rivalries among stakeholders in the region.

Amnesty program has served strategic purpose of increasing stability in Niger Delta region, which has enabled the state to pursue its economic interests in conjunction with the MOCs. Nigeria's dependence on petroleum is structural up to 95% of exports, around 85% of state revenues are generated from oil and gas. Likewise, with the federal government considering alleged scraping of the amnesty program can lead to an economic downturn among States within the Niger Delta region and the entire country at large

Since the inception of the presidential amnesty, program militants were placed in skills acquisition training centers in 33 locations across Nigeria. Militants were also sent on skills acquisition training to countries such as South Africa, the US, Russia, Israel, India, Poland, Cyprus, Poland, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, and Trinidad and Tobago. In reflection of the emphasis on building skills to encourage eventual reintegration in their communities, amnesty beneficiaries were presented with the choice of a specific vocation from a diverse bouquet, for which they would receive formal training and these have helped in the drastic reduction of militancy, agitation and youth restiveness in the Niger Delta region, with the federal government considering alleged scraping of the presidential amnesty program can lead to militant agitation and youth restiveness within the states of the Niger Delta region.

It is my hope and expectation that the policy makers around Mr. President will convey to him these viable reason why he should not scrab the presidential amnesty program.

Godwin Obire
Chairman: Concern Nigerians
For Better Nigeria (CNBN)

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