Ijaw group against govt’s plan to end Presidential Amnesty Programme
ABUJA-IJAW Youth Council, IYC,has appealed to the Federal Government to expedite action on the Ogoni cleanup project, saying it was not satisfied on how the government has handled the project so far. This came as it warned the government against alleged plan to end Presidential Amnesty Programme for the ex-militants from the region, saying ending the programme at this time would not be in the best interest of the region’s teeming unemployed youths. The Abuja chapter of the organization, in a communique issued at the end of its emergency consultative meeting , insisted that government must sustain the amnesty programme if it really wanted the sustenance of ongoing peace in the region. Reading the communiqué before newsmen at a media briefing in Abuja, the group’s Chairman,Ebizimor Preye, commended President Muhammadu for taking what he called bold steps in the approval of clean-up of Ogoni land after years of devastation by oil spillage and exploration activities but however, regretted that not much has been done on site. To this end, the group begged the federal government to expedite action on the project,saying such would ameliorate the plight of the people of the Ogoni community and its environs. It also asked 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 organisation,according to the communique,passed a vote of confidence on the present constitution of the amnesty board led by General Paul Boroh just as it called for its sustenance. The communiqué said the youth were highly appreciative and endorsed the board’s leadership in the light of unprecedented progress in the peace-building movements and the resultant increases in production of oil and gas companies in the region. The group acknowledged that the Federal government had invested in the amnesty programme with about 20,000 ex-militants who have gone through the first phase of disarmament and are at varying stages of the second phase of rehabilitation. It said 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 addressing the challenges of the laudable programme. It equally that the youth in the region took up arms because of the criminal neglect of the region by a successive administration in the country in spite of the contribution of the Niger Delta to the development of Nigeria.