By Emma Amaize
WARRI—No fewer than 4,135 former combatants of the Niger Delta struggle have served separate notices of their plans to renege on the terms of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP.
An alliance of key agitating groups in the Niger Delta, Joint Revolutionary Council, JRC, confirmed the development in a statement, yesterday, by Cynthia Whyte.
It warned: “If this happens, the relative peace across the Niger Delta and the reported increase in daily barrels of oil produced in the region may come to an end.
“Their grudge, as it seems, borders on the continued appointment of ill-equipped band of retired military officers to run the affairs of the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“The central leadership command of JRC believes that yet again, this represents a renewed attempt by unpopular, disgruntled and divisive politicians from the Niger Delta, who have never supported the Amnesty Programme to hijack the programme and undermine a legacy of the agitating people of the Niger Delta.
“These people who have no love for our region enjoy little love from us. Therefore, any attempt by them to use the Office of the Special Adviser to play their unpopular politics, as they tried to do with the issue of Nigerian Maritime University , Okerenkoko, will be firmly and vehemently resisted by the combatants units scattered across the Niger Delta.”
“We call on the President of the Nigerian state to immediately reject recommendations from such divisive and unpopular politicians and commence a new and transparent process for the recruitment of competent and experienced hand as Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta.
“If you seek peace in Niger Delta, it must be worked for. We will never be cowed by the intentions of the ungodly. We have worked hard to keep the peace. Nothing stops us at this moment from breaking everything into pieces.
“We reject the antics of these failed politicians and we declare that we will never be part of any appointment that include them. It will never happen. We also condemn in full terms, the intentions by certain elements in the Presidency to replace retired Army general with another retired Naval general.
“The Amnesty Programme is not a parade ground where retired military officers can be quickly conscripted to command former combatants of the Niger Delta struggle. We believe that any such appointment will be a grave miscalculation and a recipe for crisis and anarchy, especially as the journey to an election year begins.
“For the past two years, billions of naira have been spent on the Amnesty Programme with nothing to show for it. Not even fresh ideas.”
The group cautioned that the PAP office should not be seen as a “Compensation Centre” for military officers with shortchanged careers or used to compensate friends of failed and unpopular political leaders in the Niger Delta.
“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to begin series of strong engagement across the Niger Delta with a view to selecting and recruiting capable and tested trusted hands, who will be acceptable to our people, useful to the Presidency and capable of making new friends for the President in the region,” it stated.