The Interim Administrator (IA) of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) Maj. Gen. Barry Tariye Ndiomu (Rtd), has said that the Niger Delta Amnesty programme will not be halted abruptly as being speculated in some quarters, hinting on plans to embark on strategic advocacy to seek the buy-in and support of critical stakeholders, as well as the ex-agitators.
Gen. Ndiomu disclosed this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Umanah Umanah in his office in Abuja on Tuesday, adding that his dream is to create an alternative and more sustainable agency that will cater to the specific needs of the people, especially the impacted communities in the Niger Delta.
In a press statement issued by his Special Adviser, Thomas Ndanusa Peretu, Gen. Ndiomu stated that his mandate is to wind down the amnesty rogramme in tandem with international best practices.
According to him, the Niger Delta Amnesty programme was supposed to have been scrapped in 2015, but the government in its wisdom, felt the need to extend its lifespan to embrace more ex-agitators, explaining that “this does not mean the programme should remain in perpetuity.”
The Interim Administrator recalled that the Presidential Amnesty Programme which was initially designed to last for five years is now 13 years old, which is over and above the initial 5-year threshold, stressing that programmes such as the Niger Delta Amnesty were usually established as a stop-gap programme for a given period of time and not meant to last forever.
“There is a deliberate, purposeful and systematic approach to stagger the process of disengagement in the interest of its target audience”, maintaining that “the programme will not be halted abruptly. Such a decision may bring about some forms of attendant negative reaction from stakeholders,” he quoted Gen. Ndiomu.
According to the Presidential Amnesty helmsman, my intention is to engage in a mutually and beneficial relationship with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in view of the enormity of the assignment given to him by the presidency.
Responding, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Umanah Umanah, expressed his ministry’s willingness to support the Presidential Amnesty Programme to achieve its mandate, as directed by the presidency, stressing the urgent need for concerted efforts to be made to ensure that the Amnesty Programme is not scrapped without providing an alternative body to cushion the effects of the backlash from the ex-agitators.
While conceding to the fact that interventionist programmes are not meant to subsist perpetually, the Minister called on the new Interim Administrator to put in place a mechanism to audit the activities of the Presidential Amnesty Programme so as to ascertain the financial health of the institution, reiterating that the cessation of the programme must be given a human face.
Chief Umanah further advised the Interim Administrator to seek the buy-in of all interest groups within the Niger Delta region to avoid unnecessary reactions from the people.
“As a sister agency established to address the development deficiencies of the Niger Delta region, PAP should count on its support as always”, he asserted.