Ijaw Youth Council tells FG not to terminate Presidential Amnesty Programme

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Rev Yakubu Pam as the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, NCPC
President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Rev Yakubu Pam as the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, NCPC
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is reportedly going to scrap the Presidential Amnesty Programme

The Ijaw Youth Council, Abuja Chapter (IJC) and allied youths group in the Niger Delta have appealed to the Federal Government to shelve its plans to wind down the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).

Mr Ebizimor Raphael, Chairman IJC, Abuja Chapter, who briefed newsmen on Monday in Abuja, said that PAP had yet to meet its mandate.

He said acquiesced that programme would not last forever; adding however, that it should be handled without premature or terminal processes as the wounds of the Niger Delta had yet to be healed.

The Federal government had recently hinted at terminating PAP.

Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh, Special Adviser to the president on Niger Delta and Coordinator of PAP, residential Amnesty Programme, disclosed this after a stakeholders’ meeting.

The programme was established in 2009 by the late President Umaru Musa Yara’ Adua.

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“A cursory trip down the memory lane will help us understand the gravity of such a decision especially in the light if the circumstances that gave birth to the programme.

“PAP was borne out of the need to address critical gaps in the security and development architecture of Niger Delta by reducing the element of youth involvement in violent confrontations with the Nigerian State over legitimate grievances.

“Those days were days of ignorance, recklessness, and irresponsibility on the part of the leadership; those were the dark days that we do not wish to see return, and as such, it would be offensive not to celebrate the Yar’ Adua led administration that provided a peaceful solution to the deadlock.

Ijaw Youth Council leaders, Ebizimor Raphael and Onimim Batubo addressing a press conference

“We appreciate and recognize the fact that the Federal Government has invested in the amnesty programme.’’

Raphael said that IJC appreciated the fact that about 20,000 ex-militants had gone through the first phase of disarmament and were at varying stages of the second phase of rehabilitation.

He said that the stakeholders acknowledged that some of the disarmed and rehabilitated ex-militant had received some form of vocational education within and outside the country.

The chairman said however that the post-disarmament interest of the primary targets was not being taken into consideration such as job placement.

He said that the phases of rehabilitation made provisions for active reconnection and reconciliations with local communities which had not been adequately implemented.

“Rather than shut down or wind up the amnesty programme because of premature or unrealistic exit projections, the Federal Government should be more proactive in its approach.

“The names of any and all the beneficiaries who have been successfully disarmed, rehabilitated and re-integrated according to the parameters set the Federal Government and made known to the public if there are any.

“There should be increased and evidential absorption of amnesty graduands to the oil and gas industry at more than just basic and menial levels of engagement.

“There should be youth representatives on boards of NDDC and the committee of PAP backed up by relevant legislative Acts because the entire process is for youths and should be driven by youths,” he said.

He urged the National Assembly to expedite action and pass into law the bill establishing the Presidential Amnesty Programme for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Ex-militants.

The chairman said that the stakeholders were impressed with Boroh’s performance and endorsed for continuity.