By Samuel Oyadongha – Yenegoa
The group, Ijaw Leaders Consultative Forum (ILCF) has hailed President Muhammad Buhari’s decision to retain the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) saying his appointment of Col Milland Diko rtd as interim administrator of the programme has helped doused tension in the Niger Delta.
ILCF in a statement signed by Hendrick Opukeme and made available to Vanguard in Yenagoa said: “leaders and elders of Ijaw nation commend Mr President for the appointment of one of our own, Col Milland Diko rtd, as the interim administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme at a time when antagonists were posturing to take over the leadership and management of the programme.
“Mr President, you rose to the occasion due to public outcry and the rising tension of the people of the Niger Delta. You expeditiously and graciously approved the appointment of an interim administrator to manage the programme rather termination.”
The group added that though the programme implementation deviated from set objectives in the immediate past administration of Brig General Paul Boroh and Prof Charles Dokubo, “it is on record that the Niger Delta amnesty programme has been acclaimed as one of the most successfully implemented DDR programmes in the world and its modus operandi has been studied by scholars and global policy analysts for future engagements and replication.”
It enjoined beneficiaries of the programme, leaders of the various phases and stakeholders to rally behind Diko to enable him to succeed in the strategic task placed on him by Mr President.
The group warned against any hurried termination of the programme in view of the peculiarities of the economic relevance of the region to the national economy and the need to sustain the relative peace, security and stability of the host communities and the multinational oil and gas companies in the overall interest of the nation.
“The fact of the matters is that the Northern part of the country is plunged into the insurgency, insecurity in the South West, genocide and pogrom in the middle belt, in the South East, conflict is brewing between the agitators of Biafra and the establishment.
Therefore it was illogical and unreasonable to provoke renewed hostilities in the Niger Delta which the termination of the presidential amnesty programme would have thrown up,” it declared.
The group called on the new coordinator to focus on designing an exit strategy for the programme as well as the emphasis on formal education and effective DDR programme monitoring and evaluation.
Others include, peacebuilding and unify the leaders of the various phases of the programme to deepen the peace process in the region; capacity building of programme staff for effective service delivery and immediate payment of all verified claims of vendors (contractors).