Amnesty scheme to end in two years
• Govt plans exit strategy for militants
NO new beneficiaries of the amnesty programme will be enlisted as the scheme will end in the next two years, according to the presidency.
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh told The Guardian on telephone yesterday that his office was designing an exit strategy for the programme with a view to ending it “in the next one or two years” as result of which the amnesty office would not enlist any more beneficiaries.
This is against the backdrop that some youths have been protesting in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, claiming to be part of the disarmament phase of the amnesty programme, and insisting they must be enlisted.
“Because the amnesty programme is succeeding, a lot of people want to be included. But the programme cannot continue forever. We are winding down. We were supposed to have wound down in December 2015 but there was no exit strategy. I just formulated one. The goal is to get the beneficiaries employed so they can exit the programme. You have to get them employed so that the money that would have continuously been spent on the programme can now be channeled into development.
“Amnesty is like using money to buy peace and that can’t continue for ever. If it continues, the beneficiaries will not want it to end. And since amnesty is about people who have been involved in violence, its continuation will mean that more people will go and carry arms so they can get amnesty. That is not sustainable, we have to encourage development.”
Asked about the 7,000 youths who were reported to be surrendering arms nearly two weeks ago, Boroh said the programme was planned as part of his peace initiative but could not hold because some people wanted to do business with the idea.
“Someone came and said he was the one that brought the youths and the government must go through him to get them disarmed. So the programme did not hold”, he said.
On the importance of getting the youths to disarm despite obstacles, because of the consequence of over 7,000 youths holding arms, Boroh told The Guardian that efforts would still have to be made to ensure peaceful disarmament. “So many arms are in the hands of ethnic groups all over the country, not just in the Niger Delta. We should work to stop arms proliferation”, he said, adding that some people were playing ethnic politics with the goal of stopping arms proliferation.