…appeal to Buhari for adequate funding of programme
By Chisom Onuoha
Former Niger Delta militants under the aegis of Akwa Ibom State Phase Two ex-militants Forum, has commended the leadership of the interim administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col. Milland Dikio (retd), over why it termed “visible changes” in the office.
The ex-militants in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman and secretary of the forum, Comrade Imoh Okoko and Mr. Sunny Afiah respectively, said that the coming of Dikio had brought hope for the people of the Niger Delta region.
The group, went on to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to adequately fund the programme to enable the administrator achieve his goals.
In part, the statement read; “Since his assumption of office, the Interim Administrator has been working round the clock, meeting with the relevant stakeholders in the Niger Delta in order to sustain the present peace in the Niger Delta region. He has brought many innovations and transformation to the Presidential Amnesty Office which in turn has repositioned the Amnesty Office for greater performance.
“The actions of the Interim Administrator has given us new hope in the Amnesty programme and we strongly believe that his leadership style will sustain and unite the people of the region.
“But he will not be able to perform creditably due to inadequate funding of the amnesty office. And this may also adversely affect the lofty programmes of the Interim Administration and could lead to incessant protests, harassment of the leadership of the Presidential Amnesty Office and possible loss of confidence in the amnesty deal and subsequent return of the ex-agitators to the creeks.
“The Forum expressed dissatisfaction over the poor funding of the Presidential Amnesty Programme by the Federal Government which has adversely affected the activities of the Amnesty Office including training and empowerment of the ex-agitators.
“Regrettably, the Presidential Amnesty Office has not been funded properly, and this has slowed down the performance of the amnesty programme. This is the reason why it is very difficult for the office to adequately carry out its statutory functions. These include, timely payment of stipends, and timely payment of school fees for those in school and vocational training centres across the globe.
“We therefore call on the Federal Government to fund the Amnesty Office adequately in order to sustain the present peace enjoyed in the Niger Delta region. It is a well-known fact that the present peace enjoyed in the Niger Delta today depends on the sustenance of the presidential amnesty programme.
“It is on record that almost all Akwa Ibom Ex-militants have not been trained both in schools, vocational trainings and even till now the office is unable to pay ex-militants allowances and contractors due to improper funding of the Presidential Amnesty Office.
“The Forum therefore, unanimously call on the President and all the relevant authorities not to play politics with the Amnesty programme but to adequately fund it to enable its leadership implement the rehabilitation, reintegration and exiting phases of the programme successfully as well as pay contractors handling various projects in the region in order to sustain the fragile peace enjoyed in the Niger Delta region today.”