John ODHE, Yenagoa
A sociopolitical activist and founder of a pressure group, Niger Delta Youth Coalition (NDYC), Comrade Kennedy West has said that any attempt to scrap the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) will give birth to grave consequences.
Speaking to TNN in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, the youth activist noted that there are some actions being taken by the federal government which are suggestive of underground plots to scrap PAP to the detriment of the people of the oil rich region.
According to him, branding the current coordinating committee of the amnesty programme led by Col. Milland Dikio (rtd) as “interim” by the federal government leaves much to be desired.
“If you can recall, about a month ago, we heard our Ijaw father, Pa E.K. Clark and other notable leaders of the Niger Delta cried out that the federal government was planning to wind down the amnesty programme but we thought it was a joke.
“But the present body language of the government really shows that they are on the move to wind the programme down. There has never been a time that the amnesty programme had an interim administrator. What is that word ‘interim’ doing there?
“We had Paul Boro as a coordinator, we just had Prof. Charles Dokubo as coordinator, then why the interim now? There are some other antics that are pointer to that effect.
“If you go through the correspondence on how Prof. Charles Dokubo was removed, you will find out that six months before Dokubo was suspended, there was a committee called caretaker committee headed by the present National Security Adviser.
“The question you will ask yourself is that is it possible that while Prof. Charles Dokubo was amnesty coordinator, there was a pseudo committee that was not known to the public hehind him, giving him instructions? It was that committee that recommend to Mr. President that Dokubo should be removed even when they found nothing against him.
“It is sad to note that all the Niger Delta contractors to the amnesty programme have not been paid. Not too long ago, you saw a protest of contractors not being paid. All contractors from the north have all been paid. Why is it that the Niger Delta contractors have not been paid? All of this is to see that our people are frustrated
“Through the North/East Development Commission, they want to send repentant Boko Haram members abroad to go and study but since this government came in, there have been efforts to bring all our people that are studying abroad back to Nigeria.
On the likely consequences should the federal government scrap the amnesty programme, the River state Ijaw born youth leader said “the federal government knows the consequences that will befall the economy once they wind up the programme. You don’t need to hear it from me.
“Let us understand that the Niger Delta never begged for amnesty, the federal government pleaded with them and in their own volition and with calls from fathers and elders of the region, they decided to sheath their weapons.
“Eleven years down the line, the federal government should ask themselves wether they have been able to keep to their promise. They should ask themselves whether they have been able to develop the Niger Delta region.”