By Victor Ahiuma-Young
NATIONAL Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), has called for immediate rehabilitation of displaced natives and inhabitants of Gbaramatu area of Warri, DeltaÂ State and Odi in Bayelsa as well as other displaced people affected by the crisis in the Niger Delta region in order to boost the amnesty deal, warning that the continued neglect of these displaced people is a threat to the amnesty deal.
President of NUPENG, Comrade Peter Akpatason, in a chat with Vanguard, said:Â â€œWhat we are saying is that there is the need for government to come out and effect practical development and put projects in place because you and I know that the amnesty itself does not solve the problem.
It only creates the enabling environment for the militants to surrender their arms and for the government to sincerely develop the communities and address the real issues that led to the crisis in the first place. When you create the environment and development action does not follow immediately, it creates doubt in the minds of people. When you have a situation of doubt, it becomes difficult for the boys (militants) to come out and say we are fully embracing the amnesty offer.
“We believe this is what is going to happen from the look of things and from what we can see on the pages of newspapers and on television.
“We will advise that the militants should not be discouraged. They should, as much as possible, be encouraged to embrace the amnesty offer. We are also advising the government to ensure that they follow the amnesty deal with serious action in the form of infrastructural development, and implementation of master plans and the reports that have been done and accepted by Nigerian people.â€
According to the union,Â “We understand that some of the militants are saying that during this crisis, a lot of their people were displaced.”
For instance, the Gbaramatu people, the Odi people and a host of others and up till now, those people have not been re-settled.”
A situation where the community people that were displaced during the crisis are not re-settled, and therefore not comfortable with what is going on, you discover that it will be difficult for them to encourage their children to accept the amnesty offer.
Even if the militants themselves, do not want to accept the amnesty deal, if they have pressures from their people, they would accept it. Who are the people to put that pressure on them or encourage them to accept the amnesty offer? The same people who have been dislocated, the same people who cannot find their ways back to their homes.
So, we think the government should do more than just waiting to see people who will come and surrender arms. The government should go into the communities and see what needed to be done in the immediate to boost the morale of the people and to give them the necessary assurances that the amnesty offer is not a decoy to get the militants out of their hide-outs and then hound them into prisons and continue the policy no development in the area that necessitated the crisis in the first place.
We think it is the responsibility of the government to assure the people through immediate developmental action.â€