From Ajansii Mgbo
Some Niger Delta youth leaders have expressed disappointment with the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration over the manner it has handled the Ogoni clean-up exercise.
Their outburst was barely 24hours after the Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), a coalition of armed groups in the Niger Delta served noticed that ex-militants in the region may dump the Presidential Amnesty they embraced in 2008, over alleged moves to replace the Special Adviser and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh (Rtd).
In an interview with Ripples Nigeria in Abuja, Monday, Spokesman of the youth leaders and Chairman of Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), Abuja Chapter, Comrade Ebizimor Preye Raphael called for speedy action on the environmental clean-up and also passed a vote of confidence on the presidential aide.
Since the amnesty programme is meant for the youths, the group also called for their inclusion in the Implementation Committee of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Earlier in a press conference, where he presented IYC communiqué, on behalf of 24 other youth groups in the oil rich region, Raphael said while they acknowledged that amnesty as a developmental process cannot last forever, it was not timely for the Federal Government to contemplate scrapping the programme at the moment because the issues that gave birth to it were yet to be resolved.
They likened amnesty programme to medical treatment, which if not completed can lead to a more dangerous relapse of the ailment.
According to them, “The amnesty programme can be likened to a long awaited medical treatment regimen which if not completed in terms of recommended dosage, appropriate duration and clinical tracking, or, which if prematurely and unwisely terminated can lead to a more dangerous relapse of the ailment to the affected part of the body and with grave consequences to the entire system.”
The group also called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the bill establishing the Presidential Amnesty Programme for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of ex-militants, including backing representation of youths on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board and committee on PAP with legislations.
Part of the communiqué of IYC, Abuja Chapter, which Raphael presented to newsmen, said “While the amnesty programme cannot last forever; it is more of a journey than a destination, and should be handled accordingly without premature, ill-thought or rigid terminal processes because healing is gradual especially when the wounds are deep and severe as with the Niger Delta.
“The present constitution of the amnesty board led by Brig Gen Paul Boroh is highly appreciated and endorsed by us in the light of the unprecedented progress in peace-building movements and the resultant increases in production of oil and gas companies in the region and therefore should be retained.
“Rather than shut down or wind up the amnesty programme because of premature or unrealistic exit projections, the Federal Government of Nigeria should be more proactive; and empirical in its approach to whatever is considered to be the issue with the programme
“That there should be wider stakeholders’ involvement in the selection processes for procurement of these delicate social engagement contracts.”
“That all contractors, NGO and other agencies /establishments engaged by the PAP should consult with the various youth groups relevant to their areas of interest because we are the primary stakeholders in the entire process.
“That there should be increased and evidential absorption of amnesty graduands to the oil and gas industry at more than just basic and menial levels of engagement because this is a right for which we are not begging.
“There should be youth representatives on the boards of NDDC, and the committee of the PAP backed up by relevant legislative ACTS because the entire process is for youths and should be driven by youths.
“There should be independent continuous tracking, monitoring and evaluation as well as annual impact assessment of the amnesty programme vis-a-vis the projected milestones for an even and fair comparison.”
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