Former Niger Delta militants have called on the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress to ignore calls by some mischief makers to disband the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
The ex-militants, who made the call under the aegis of Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative, said this in apparent reaction to calls by prominent businessman in the region, Mr. Ayiri Emami, and others, who have questioned the rationale for sustenance of the programme.
The former militants in a statement on Wednesday, maintained that the call was in bad faith and utterly misguided.
The National President of the initiative, Pastor Reuben Wilson, described Emami’s call on the president-elect to scrap the amnesty programme as one which was premised on his “pathological hatred for the Ijaw nationality” as well as his misconceived idea that the Ijaws were the major beneficiaries of the programme.
Wilson said, “The amnesty is for all ex-freedom fighters, and if the Ijaws are in the majority, it then means they were more actively involved than any other tribe in the Niger Delta liberation struggle.
“Moreover, the Ijaws are in the majority in the region and the fourth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria. Therefore, it is natural for the Ijaws to dominate the Presidential Amnesty Programme for ex-militants in the Niger Delta, owing to their population and active involvement in the Niger Delta struggle”.
Pastor Wilson insisted that the only panacea for sustaining the current stability and peace in the Niger Delta was the continuation of the amnesty programme, adding that any attempt to scrap it would result in dire consequences.
He added, “The Amnesty Programme currently has several thousands of Niger Deltan youths undergoing academic studies and skills acquisition programmes abroad. If it is scrapped, how will they complete their studies and skill acquisition programmes?
“What will be the fate of those waiting for their turn to undergo such skill acquisition programmes and studies?
“It is sheer wickedness and ignorance that will make anybody call for the scrapping of the programme. It was established by late President Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua as a bargain to secure stability and peace in the Niger Delta.
“We, the ex-militants, have done our part by turning in our arms, ammunition and stopping our militant activities, and the Federal Government has not completely fulfilled its own part of the bargain.
“It is therefore reckless and mischievous for anybody to call for the scrapping of the programme at this point in time”.