By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN CITY â€” A member of Niger Delta Technical Committee and former Presidential aide, Professor Julius Ihonbvere, said, yesterday, that the Federal Government would have avoided the prevailing face-off between it and the South-South governors if it had implemented the report of the committee to the letter.
He said the technical committee report clearly stipulated the terms and conditions in which the process of amnesty would be granted to the militants, inclu-ding Federal Governmentâ€™s post-amnesty agenda and the upgrade of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Warri.
Ihonbvere, who commended the South-South governors for their decision, told Vanguard in Benin City that â€œthe issues they (governors) raised were very critical and could not be ignored. The issue of down-grading PTI and then voting over 14 billion Naira for another university in Kaduna, to me, is provocative. Any person from the South-South must see it that way. The PTI was already moving towards establishing itself as a full university.
â€œThere is no law in the world that says a university cannot produce diplomas and certificate holders and we see it as an affront on the South-South.
â€œOn the issue of amnesty, if the government had followed, to the letter, the well thought out decision of the Niger Delta Technical Committee that was set up by the Federal Government itself, most of these problems would have been avoided.â€
According to him, â€œIn that report, we laid down, very clearly, the terms, conditions and context in which the process of amnesty would be granted and executed.
â€œThough Mr President received the report before the Uwais report,Â there is no white paper on it till today and it is not being implemented.â€
â€œSome of the ideas are taken half and half and they run into problems and the South-South governors are saying, what is the post-amnesty arrangement. The leaders of the South-South have not been brought together, those who have always served as the go-between between the militants and government have not been brought together.
â€œWhat we see is just to talk about amnesty and those who are coming out now, by all indications, are not the real militants.
Most of them are just political opportunists. So I believe that the issues raised by the governors about the federal governmentâ€™s post-amnesty agenda need to be discussed and properly articulated so that we do not have a situation where they will come out from the creeks, surrender a few weapons, then they are neglected after a few months and they will go back to the creeks and we are back to square one. I think that is what the governors are trying to avoid.â€