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Ijaw Youths urge Tinubu to ignore calls for scrapping of Amnesty Programme

The Ijaw Youths Network, IYN, has urged President Bola Tinubu to ignore calls for the scrapping of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP.

The Ijaw youth body said those calling for the scrapping of the PAP are uncomfortable with the prevailing peace and stability in the Niger Delta, and are clearly not motivated by patriotism and genuine concern for the region and Nigeria.

The IYN, in a statement signed by its President, Frank Ebikabo, and the Secretary, Federal Ebiaridor, said that the call being championed by ethnic chauvinists was designed to distract the new leadership of the PAP and does not deserve attention from serious minds.

The group was responding to comments made by one Frank Tietie, who claimed on national television that there was corruption in the PAP and that the agency had not achieved anything in spite of the money spent by the Federal Government.

The Ijaw youths condemned the claim by Tietie that only one ethnic group was laying claim to the PAP, stressing that what the Niger Delta needs at this time is not the promotion of divisive ethnic sentiments and the use of same to attack a functional agency making impacts in the region but concerted efforts for development.

According to the IYN, the PAP had contributed immensely to the sustenance of prevailing peace in the oil-rich Niger Delta through its well thought-out programmes.

The group noted that it cannot be contested that several ex-agitators and people from impacted communities are excelling in various sectors of the economy after receiving training under the PAP.

The group noted further that several beneficiaries of the Programme are gainfully employed as air traffic controllers, flight instructors, aircraft maintenance engineers, pilots, underwater welding technicians, among others, from the various states of the Niger Delta, adding that but for the PAP many of them would not have had the opportunity to acquire such high-level manpower training.

The IYN maintained that several others who were trained and empowered through the Programme are doing well in diverse trade areas such as fashion design, unisex salon, fish farming, baking and confectionery, rice production, hairdressing, cement and building materials trading, and several other enterprises.

The group said, “While it is not our intention to bring the odious inter-ethnic wrangling in the Niger Delta to the fore at this point, we find it obligatory to condemn the reprehensible act of hiding under the toga of ethnicity to attack the PAP. What the Niger Delta and indeed the country needs at this point is unity and concerted efforts for development.

“As a region, we have suffered too much and cannot afford these antics that have held us down.

“We listened to the desperate call by one Mr Frank Tietie, a supposed Niger Delta activist who called for the scrapping of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. Tietie told his interviewers that the Presidential Amnesty Programme has failed and must be discontinued, citing corruption in the agency.

“Even more regrettable, was the fact that the supposed Niger Delta activist claimed only a set of ethnic nationality had laid claims to the Presidential Amnesty Office. This is untrue and misleading.

“He also said that the Federal Government had spent N500 billion on the Presidential Amnesty Programme with no results for the money. We find it difficult to believe that a true activist will lament that the Federal Government spent N500 billion on the PAP. The self-styled stakeholder forgot to mention what the Federal Government has spent on the Ministry of Niger Delta and the Niger Delta Development Commission, and why the two bodies should be scrapped for corruption if that is the standard for the survival of agencies.

“While we do not want to jump to accuse anybody of selective amnesia, we cannot forget in a hurry that, at the peak of the armed struggle before the proclamation of the Presidential Amnesty in 2009, those calling for the scrapping of the Programme tagged the ex-agitators and their Ijaw ethnic nationality as troublemakers.

“However, Nigerians from outside the region appreciated the fact that there was underdevelopment, pain, agony and frustration which triggered deep resentments in the oil-producing areas.”

The IYN stressed that the Federal Government did not declare selective, ethnic-based amnesty in the Niger Delta as shown by the facts.

The group stressed that it was plain mischief for anybody to attempt to mislead the country with the false narrative that the 30,000 ex-agitators listed under the Programme were there on the platform of ethnicity.

“Nigerians know that the Federal Government of Nigeria did not declare a selective amnesty for the ex-militants in the Niger Delta. The 30,000 ex-agitators captured under the programme are not enrolled because they speak a particular language. Mr. Tietie can ask his kinsman, General Lucky Aralile (retd.), who was the pioneer head of the Presidential Amnesty Programme,” the statement added

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