Leaders in the Niger Delta have agreed that the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) should end immediately after the integration of all the beneficiaries of the scheme.
The leaders comprising traditional rulers, political leaders, past and present officers of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide reached the decision when they met with the Administrator of PAP, Col. Milland Dixion Dikio (retd) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Wednesday.
The leaders however insisted that the Federal Government should achieve all conceptualised benefits for PAP before bringing it to an end.
They urged the Federal Government to ensure that the programme was given the needed financial support to execute its reintegration phase so as to bring it to an end.
The leader thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Dikio as the interim administrator and expressed optimism that with him PAP would realise its objectives.
They also called on Dikio to clean the Augean stable in the amnesty office by identifying and firing persons that had used the PAP as a conduit pipe.
The leaders observed that the bad eggs in the amnesty office had derailed the programme because of their greed and fraudulent activities stressing that without removing such officials PAP would continue to have crisis.
In his remarks, an elder statesman and nationalist, Chief Edwin Clark, urged the Federal Government not to rush to end the amnesty programme.
Also speaking, the host governor, Douye Diri, represented by his Commissioner for Ijaw Affairs, Mr. Patrick Erasmus, said the government was willing to make available office to house the Amnesty programme in Bayelsa.
He expressed delight at the summit being held in the state, saying that the amnesty was a programme that should be owned by all Niger Deltans.
In his remarks, Colonel Dikio said he convened the stakeholders’ summit to interact with the custodians of the region.
He said the meeting afforded him the opportunity to understand some of the plights of the people and promised to quarterly hold similar engagements in the region.
The amnesty boss said his vision was to capture all beneficiaries of PAP and integrate them into the scheme urging the region to support him to achieve the mandate.
Dikio advised ex-agitators not to make protests a culture of pressing for issues in the Niger Delta noting that after 11 years of the programme, the approach in passing out message was not yielding the desired results.
He averred that the ex-agitators in the course of protesting about the underdevelopment in the region had destroyed the already existing infrastructures thus making the region to remain in its old state.
Highlighting the demerits of the protest in the region, Dikio said: “The approach of protest over the years has scared many businesses away from the region. Therefore, we must find creative ways to bring back businesses to the region.
“The Amnesty is not just the programme; there are a lot in the package. The programme does not only accommodate arms bearers alone but also the impacted communities in the region.”
He promised that stakeholders meetings would be held regularly, at least once in a quarter to aggregate the views of the people of the region
He also promised that liaison offices in the region would function as the headquarters to reduce the incessant visits to Abuja.