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Blame FG for amnesty programme crisis, says PANDEF

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The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has blamed the crisis rocking the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) on the failure of the Federal Government to holistically implement the initiative.

The group said with the high turnover of heads of interventionist agencies for the Niger Delta, it was beginning to see a situation where the government would frustrate attempts to bring lasting peace and sustainable development to the oil-rich region.

PANDEF’s Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, stated this while reacting to last week’s suspension of the Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta, Prof. Charles Dokubo, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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He told The Guardian that Federal Government was to blame for the crisis rocking the amnesty programme from its inception, and particularly the sacking and suspension of two heads of the initiative under the current administration.

“We have earlier called for the proper set-up of the programme. It is only one aspect of the programme that is being attended to. There are five components of the amnesty programme, and it is only disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former militants and agitators that are being implemented,” he clarified.

Robinson stated that the people of the Niger Delta would oppose any attempt by the Federal Government to appoint any caretaker committee to oversee the affairs of the programme, which according to him, has never satisfied the reason why it was set up in the first place by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

“We are not happy with the way and manner the presidency is handling some of the interventionist agencies in the Niger Delta, particularly, the idea of setting up a caretaker committee. This is what I hear the presidency wants to do. We would want to know who are the members of the caretaker committee. Are they from the region? Is the appointment in line with the objectives of the amnesty programme?”he queried.

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The spokesman explained that while PANDEF remains committed to peace and efforts aimed developing and improving the livelihood of the people, it would however not sit down and watch the region being taken for granted.

Robinson added: “We ask for a substantive amnesty programme chairman and special adviser to the president on Niger Delta and the person to the appointed must be from the region. We completely condemn the frequent interference with the amnesty programme.”

The PANDEF chief advised the Buhari administration to, without further delay, commence the implementation of other critical components of the programme, including the critical infrastructure and economic development of the Niger Delta; environmental remediation; implementation of modalities of host communities’ ownership of petroleum assets and establishment of a framework for oil and gas assets protection surveillance.

He stressed that if the programme was implemented as originally intended, it would engender further militant activities in the region.

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