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How FG’s amnesty to militants can work—Ihonvbere

By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—FORMER Presidential aide and member of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, Professor Julius Ihonvbere, has said for the amnesty granted to militants in the region to succeed, it has to be combined with attention to issues of good governance, adequate funding and special attention to the development of the creeks.

Noting that President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration had made more effort in addressing the Niger Delta problem than any other government in the past, he stated that the amnesty was not going to bring lasting solution to the crisis in the Niger Delta, adding that the riverine areas must be developed and the issues that brought about militancy addressed holistically.

 AMNESTY: A cross section of Delta Ijaw Traditional Rulers during the interactive session with members of the Presidential Committee on Amnesty, Disarmament and Re-orientation at Government House Annex, Warri, recently. Photo by Akpokona Omafuaire.
AMNESTY: A cross section of Delta Ijaw Traditional Rulers during the interactive session with members of the Presidential Committee on Amnesty, Disarmament and Re-orientation at Government House Annex, Warri, recently. Photo by Akpokona Omafuaire.

Ihonvbere, who spoke to newsmen in Benin City, said “ the amnesty is not a lasting solution to the problems we have, but it is the beginning of the solution. It will end the violence; it will end kidnapping, and it may end the waste of human life and the contradictions of insecurity.

“But like I said, it is just the beginning because the real challenge is what led to militancy. It was the struggle for resources control and then better life for the people of the Niger Delta that have to be addressed.

“Having said that, I will say that Yar’Adua’s government has done more than any government in the history of Nigeria about addressing the issues of the Niger Delta. Aside from amnesty, it has also strengthened the NDDC and he is willing to allow a discussion now and he set up a Ministry of the Niger Delta, set up the Niger Delta Technical Committee to review all the prescriptions of the past. And some of the actions being implemented now were in the report of that committee in which I was very proud to have served.

“So, I believe he is generating the necessary political will, which is required to push issues in the Niger Delta. Some of the issues are within the purview of the constitution review committee.

“So the amnesty, in my view, is only a beginning and it has to be combined with attention to issues of good governance, adequate funding, special intervention, special attention to the creeks, the riverine areas of the Niger Delta.

“We have to also look at the issues of women and the youths for us to have a holistic development agenda for the future.”


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