The leadership of the Niger Delta apex social welfare group, under the auspices of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, on Monday 7of November,2022, advised President Muhammadu Buhari that tension was high in the Niger Delta and terminating the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, would escalate the ‘fragile peace’ in the oil region.
Source reports that the National leader of the South-South regional body and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark; co-Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT, and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah; National Chairman, PANDEF, Senator Emmanuel Ibok-Essien, and 32 others, in a communique, called for extension, rather than termination of PAP, to reintegrate all beneficiaries
They, however, said by a recent statement by officials that the Federal Government might have backpedaled on the unguided plan, adding that though the programme has a timeline, existing realities make the termination unrealistic.
The statement read in part: “We are quite disturbed by recent happenings and media reports, which dominated the public space, in the past few weeks, regarding the possible termination of PAP, possibly before the end of your administration, and the vile silence of your government on the matter.
“Though our attention was drawn to news reports, within the last 48 hours, that ‘the Federal Government has rescinded the plan to terminate PAP, it is imperative to note that the rumours of the winding up of the programme and the alleged delisting of about 3,000 beneficiaries have already sparked anxiety in the Niger Delta.
“We recall that similar speculations were strewn in 2020, before the appointment of Col. Milliard Dixon Dikio (retd) as Interim Administrator of the programme, in August of that year.
“Mr. President, these ‘underhand’ tactics, marked by secrecy and chicanery, are improper and unthoughtful of the realities in the region. They are also, definitely, not in the best interest of the peace and stability of the Niger Delta region, and the friable economic situation of the country.
“It is insidious for government, at any level, to take critical decisions, capable of impacting negatively on the peace and stability of the society, merely on solipsistic references, without proper situational awareness, and due consideration of the ramifications.
“We had discussed these concerns at our extraordinary meeting held on October 22, 2022, and reflected the same in the communiqué, therefrom:
“PANDEF cautions FG against any ill-advised plan to terminate PAP given the rumours that the government is scheduling to wind up the programme before the end of the Buhari administration.
“The meeting further warns that the considerations that PAP could be scrapped due to a pipeline surveillance contract awarded to a private firm, are not only illogical but unacceptable.
“We note that the amnesty programme was an intervention to promote peace and stability in the Niger Delta, thus, any attempt to prematurely end the programme would be detrimental to the peace and stability of the Niger Delta.
“Going forward, the amnesty programme should be extended to include the full re-integration of all beneficiaries.”