…say few powerful individuals now run establishment as a personal project without checks, balances
Ex-militants from Akwa Ibom State under an umbrella name “Unyekisong” have called for immediate restructuring of the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty programme to reflect its original mandate.
The ex-militants alleged that the establishment has been hijacked by a few powerful and biased individuals who now run it as their personal project without checks and balances.
In a statement jointly signed by Dede Udofia and Ibanga Ekeng and made available to Vanguard in Abuja on Sunday, the militants said that the Programme as presently constituted cannot deliver on its mandate.
They said that many of the supposed beneficiaries have been excluded from the programme.
“Despite the several billions of naira spent annually by the Amnesty office on the welfare of the Niger delta ex-agitators, ex-militants of Akwa Ibom State origin who are participants of the Presidential Amnesty Programme have been neglected, discriminated against, marginalized and completely left out of the major activities of the programme, including training and empowerment.
“They are also consistently excluded from meetings and other important events that require the participation of ex-militants in the region. Funds so appropriated are derived from the nation’s revenue of which Akwa Ibom State is the highest contributor.
“We have observed the continued exclusion of these affected ex-militants from local and overseas training programmes, stoppage of monthly stipends of over one hundred (100) ex-militants from Akwa Ibom State since 2010 and eventual removal of their names from the Amnesty payroll without any cogent reason, the refusal by successive administrations of the Amnesty Office to consider ex-militants from Akwa Ibom State for Training and Empowerment programmes, and the failure by the Amnesty Office to carry the affected ex-militants along in its various activities, among others.
“Apart from the payment of the monthly stipends of N65,000.00 to each of the beneficiaries, Akwa Ibom ex-militants benefit nothing more from the Amnesty Programme. We are being treated as second class beneficiaries and the positive impact of the programme is not felt here in our State.
“We have also observed that the leadership of the Amnesty programme since its inception in 2009 has been structured in a manner that makes it the exclusive preserve of a few states of the Niger Delta, notably, Bayelsa, Ondo, and Rivers. The rest including Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Abia and Edo are yet to be represented.
“The Amnesty programme should also be restructured to meet the statutory mandate for which it was established and this should be done without delay. As presently constituted, the Amnesty office is administered by a few powerful, and biased individuals who run the establishment as if it is their own personal project, without checks and balances and this creates room for sectionalism and favouritism.
“We, therefore, demand for the immediate restructuring of the Niger Delta Amnesty programme to make it more functional and to ensure that it fulfils its statutory mandate. The re-constitution of the Amnesty Office should include representatives of the different states of the Niger Delta who will oversee the day-to-day running of the programme to ensure that the objectives of setting up the programme are achieved as well as protect the interests of their respective states to avoid further discrimination, sectionalism and marginalization of some states as currently experienced.
“We urge the Federal Government to consider this as a matter of urgent importance, in order to guarantee continued peace and harmony in Akwa Ibom State and the Niger Delta region”, the statement read.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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