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September 29, 2009

Group wants amnesty extended till 2020

AN Ijaw pressure group, Ijaw People Congress (IPC), has called on President Umaru Yar’Adua to extend the proposed amnesty to 2020, saying “ it will be in conformity with the vision of Nigeria to become economically strong in global circle by 2020″.

In a statement by National President of the group, Mr. Ekanpou Enewaridideke, the  group argued that the amnesty programme must not be an avenue to flex military muscle and might,adding that “people must not be stampeded to accept the amnesty because such hasty image-boosting approach will not have a lasting impact on the affected”.

According to him, “targeted freedom fighters, like Chief Government Ekpemupolo and others, should not be stampeded to swallow the amnesty as a way to dramatise the indomitability of federal might. The amnesty scheme must be holistically approached in a way activists are ideologically persuaded to embrace it as a pointer to unimpeded development of the Niger Delta.”

Furthermore, he urged that “for phased success of the amnesty programme the Federal government of Nigeria should overtly display the readiness to address the developmental problems in the Niger Delta by antagonising rhetorics. For huge success of the amnesty programme, the government of Musa Yar’Adua should apply the principle of co-operation and friendship in selling the amnesty idea to people.”

Besides, he pointed out that if the amnesty is targeted to intimidate the freedom fighters into submission, “it will fail, but where it is adopted as a policy document to redress the age-long marginalisation of the Niger Delta, it will work. And for the amnesty to work, the October deadline is not feasible because it is a parody of global perception of amnesty all over the world.”

On the need for the federal government not to use force to force amnesty on people, the IPC boss said “persuasion is a better approach. The era of muscle-flexing is over. We are in the era of rational persuasion and friendship. The amnesty should be extended to 2020 for attainment of good and lasting result.”