Ijaw youths caution govt against ending amnesty programme
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has asked the Federal government to shelve its purported plans to phase out the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
Briefing journalists yesterday in Abuja, the group noted that the programme was yet to actualise the purpose for which it was established and that ending it prematurely would be as bad as not starting it in the first place.
IYC Chairman, Comrade Ebizimor Preye, in its communiqué on the sustainability of the Presidential Amnesty Programme following the groups meeting with stakeholders, likened the amnesty programme to a long awaited medical treatment.He said: “The amnesty programme is like a long awaited medical treatment which if not completed or unwisely terminated can lead to a more dangerous relapse of the ailment and with grave consequence for the entire system.”
The group noted that its members were not oblivious of the fact that the amnesty programme was for a specific period of time and urged the government to handle it accordingly without premature, rigid and ill-thought terminal process.
“This is because the healing process of any disease condition is gradual, especially where the wounds are deep and severe, as that of the Niger Delta region,” it added.
While acknowledging government’s huge investment in the programme, Preye noted that 20,000 ex-militants have gone through the first phase of disarmament and were at different stages of second phase of rehabilitation.
It also lamented that the post-disarmament interest of the primary target such as jobs placement was not being taken into consideration, adding that the different phases of the rehabilitation make provision for active reconnection and reconciliation with local communities, which has not been achieved.
The group, however, urged the National Assembly to expedite action and pass the bill establishing the Presidential Amnesty Programme into law for proper rehabilitation and reintegration of the ex-militants.It demanded increased absorption of graduates of the programme into the oil and gas industry at higher levels of engagement because it was their right.
It also raised concerns over the slow pace of work in the Ogoni cleanup project and charged government to prevail on the contractors to speed up the process.
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