By Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
Ex-militants, under the Third Phase of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, have threatened to go back to the creeks over the plight of beneficiaries whose training, empowerment and reintegration programmes have been suspended abruptly.
The third phase ex-agitators under the auspices of the United Amnesty Delegates on Tuesday frowned at the abandonment of the reintegration and empowerment component in a radio programme monitored in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.
They noted that reneging on full reintegration of all ex-agitators captured during the disarmament stage amounted to a breach of the terms of the amnesty agreement and advised the government to keep the pact.
According to the leader of the group, Mr Ebi John, the development followed the non-payment of verified PAP’s contractors since November 2019.
He also said the speculations on plans to scrap or wind down the Amnesty programme without fully reintegrating the 30,000 beneficiaries had caused apprehension among their fold as they were contemplating a protest to demand the resumption of the exercise.
The ex-militant leader lamented the pains ex-militants in the Niger Delta were going through as a result of the non-payment of contractors handling various trainings and empowerment schemes in the programme.
Ebi explained the most critical part of the Amnesty programme is the reintegration of the ex-agitators into civil life, saying reintegration comprised the training and empowerment of the ex-agitators to enable them to have sustainable sources of livelihoods in line with the amnesty deal with the Federal Government.
He said the suspension of training and empowerment of the ex-agitators was clear indication of the rumoured scraping of the Presidential Amnesty Programme by the present administration, adding that the move would be resisted.
He stated: “Our findings indicate that the National Security Adviser has been in charge of the programme and we shall not accept scraping the Presidential Amnesty Programme without achieving its objectives.
“The United Amnesty Delegates is sending a message to the NSA that the alleged plot to scrap the programme is now clear to the entire Niger Delta people, particularly the ex-militants and we will resist it with our blood as usual.
“The non-payment of contractors/vendors by the Amnesty office since November last year is a ploy by the NSA to cleverly scrap the programme as beneficiaries of the programme no more undergo trainings.
“This is because of the backlog monies the office is owing contractors. We are calling on the Federal Government to caution the NSA to pay all verified contractors to enable beneficiaries to return to their various training centres to continue with their training and empowerment schemes without further delay.
“If the government fails to address this appalling situation, we shall have no other option but to go back to the creeks and take actions that will compel the Presidency to react immediately.
“The payment should cut across board and devoid of bias. The United Amnesty delegates demand an explanation as to why the NSA is still the one running the office after an interim coordinator has been appointed.”
Read the original article on The Nation