Ex-militant leaders and stakeholders from the Niger Delta region have decried the delisting of thousands of beneficiaries from the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP.
This lamentation was contained in an open letter addressed to President Muhammad Buhari by the group coordinator, Comrade Priye Noel Kuete, and two other stakeholders, claiming that the decision was an attempt to end the programme by December 2022.
The letter, as obtained by IsL source, SaharaReporters, on Friday, reads: “We, the beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Ondo State, wish to commend Mr President for the demonstration of unwavering commitment in sustaining the Presidential Amnesty Programme for ex-agitators in the Niger Delta till date. Mr President, the wisdom required to pilot the affairs of the nation will not depart from you in Jesus name.
“However, we wish to use this medium to draw your attention to pertinent issues that demand your urgent attention in order to save our dear country from passing through another round of agitation in the oil rich Niger Delta region under your watch.
“Recall that late President Umaru Musa Ya’Adua declared the Presidential Amnesty for Niger Delta agitators in June 25 2009. The programme did not get legal teeth until in 2018 when Mr President assented to the bill establishing it.
“According to the bill, the amnesty programme shall be structured into disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration. It further stipulates that ex-agitators under the programme shall be paid regular monthly stipends as may be approved by the President from time, to time, take care of their basic necessities as part of the demobilization process and that only ex-agitators whose names are in the stipends roll shall be entitled to receive the regular monthly stipends or allowances.
“Contrary to expectations of ex-agitators and well-meaning Nigerians, when Mr President approved the appointment of Major General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd) as Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, news had it that the new Interim Administrator was given a mandate to scrap the programme which masterplan is yet to be implemented by the Federal Government of Nigeria. This, the Interim Administrator has confirmed in his engagements with stakeholders in the Niger Delta region with a caveat not to wind it down abruptly.
“But to our greatest chagrin and consternation, when payment of stipends in the month of October 2022 was recently effected, thousands of genuine beneficiaries of the Programme were not paid. An inside source in the Presidential Amnesty office who does not want his name in print disclosed that non-payment of the affected beneficiaries is in line with the mandate given to the Interim Administrator to wind down the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“Mr President, so far, flimsy excuses have been given as grounds for delisting genuine and well documented beneficiaries from the Programme. When late President Musa Ya’ Adua made the proclamation, amnesty was declared for all persons who have directly or indirectly participated in militancy in the Niger Delta unconditionally. It did not preclude those with paid job from renouncing militancy ab initio.
“Moreover, the law establishing the Presidential Amnesty Programme does not single out any category of beneficiaries deemed not to be receiving the regular monthly stipends for any reason whatsoever. So, whether or not someone is working elsewhere while his/her name is on the payment voucher of the amnesty programme is immaterial.
“In addition, everyone knows how difficult it is to secure placements in Nigerian job environment. As a father, do you just abdicate your financial obligations to your child without any incomes simply because the child has graduated from the University? The answer is an emphatic NO.
“Besides, the 2022 appropriation captured all the 30, 000 documented beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and funds for payment of regular monthly stipends have been released accordingly. By delisting those whose funds have been appropriated for the year, does it mean the Interim Administrator wants to return the money to national coffers? Or characteristic of his type, he wants to convert it for personal use?
“We are not sure if Mr President is aware of plans by fifth columnists to scrap the Presidential Amnesty Programme thereby depriving the region from enjoying the prevailing peace, security and stability.
“Those in position of authority, at times, need to come to equity with clean hands. How could a sane person conceive plans to scrap the Presidential Amnesty Programme which resultant effects have boosted the production capacity of crude oil in the country and illegally sustain processes of disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists with billions of naira exploited from the Niger Delta region? This is the moral burden on those propagating the scrap of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.”
“Therefore, we call on Mr President to prevail on the National Security Adviser, Major General, Mohammed Babagana Monguno, (rtd) and the Interim Administrator of PAP, Major General Barry Ndiomu (rtd), to reinstate, with immediate effect, all those whose names have been criminally removed from the payment voucher. We also call on Mr President to rein in enemies of the country in his government who are bent on scrapping the amnesty programme as decoy to cover up their involvement in financial crimes in the office to dissipate their energies towards the implementation of PAP’s masterplan.
“We have left the creeks for love of Nigeria and government should not force us to go back to the creeks. Should the unimaginable become a reality, no state and/or private security can stop us. A stich in time saves nine,” the letter added.