By Our Reporter
The Oil Producing Areas Association Of Nigeria (OPAAN) Delta State Chapter has condemned the move by the Federal Government of Nigeria to discontinue the Presidential Amnesty Program granted to ex-agitators from the Niger Delta region, saying that the move is oppressive and unthinkable, Corereporters report.
In a statement signed by the association’s chairman, Rev. Jonathan-Davids Dike (ADRI), the Presidential Amnesty Program to Ex-Agitators in the Niger Delta was no doubt an amazing peace initiative by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua via an act of parliament dated the 6th of August 2009, as a step towards resolving the protracted insecurity in the oil rich region by granting unconditional amnesty to the Niger Delta youths at a period that the vandalization of crude oil assets, and hostages of expatriates from Multi-Nationals have become the only available option to compel the Federal Government on the urgent and pertinent need to develop the oil rich Niger Delta region that has been neglected over the years, despite the indisputable fact that “it lays the golden egg” that survives the entire Country through Oil exploration in the region.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) has brought relative and enviable peace to the region over a decade of its existence.
Notwithstanding the above development, The Oil Producing Areas Association Of Nigeria (OPAAN), is not unaware of the fraud ravaging the program by those saddled with the responsibility of managing and implementing the mandate of the body, which subsequently led to the sack of the immediate past Special Adviser and coordinator of the program, Professor Charles Dokubo six months ago, and the eventual setting up of a 4-man investigative panel by the National Security Adviser (NSA) Maj.Gen.Babagana Muhammad Mongouno (rtd) to review the activities of PAP in line with its statutory assignment.
The statement read in part, “It is worthy of note that the investigative panel is being headed by Ambassador A.A Lawal, a northerner from Bauchi State who in company of his team have deliberately refused to see the importance and Government sincerity of establishing the amnesty program, due to the indisputable fact that the members of the panel and their families are not at the receiving end of the total neglect, under development and inhuman living condition experienced in the Oil Rich Niger Delta.
“For the benefit of doubt, we have it on good record, that the panel is rumoured to have recommended for the scrapping of PAP by the end of December 2020, after carrying out their investigation in Abuja without finding it necessary to visit the abandoned region for a first hand fact finding mission. We do not only see this clandestine move by members of the panel as a total disservice to the good people of the region, but an economic sabotage against the President Muhammedu Buhari led Administration.
“ it is our conviction that a panel that has all its members from a particular geopolitical zone (North), will definitely not support continuity of this very noble and people oriented program.
“On this very sincere and justifiable note, OPAAN wishes to state in categorical terms that the move is not only unpatriotic, but inimical to the plight of the peace loving people of the Niger Delta , as well as a breach of trust. This decision if implemented will certainly be an open demonstration of hatred for the people of the oil producing Areas of Niger Delta.” The statement stated.
However, OPAAN urged President Buhari to in totality disregard this unpatriotic recommendation with a hidden ploy to wickedly destroy the relative peace and increased oil revenue experienced so far vis-a-vis the setting up of the Presidential Amnesty Program.
OPAAN further called on all the elected representatives from the region at the national assembly to close synergy in order to nip this evil plot in the bud for the common good of the neglected and vulnerable people of the region.
Corereporters report that, OPAAN called on Mr President to as a matter of urgency and public concern appoint a substantive Special Adviser and Coordinator for the amnesty program, as we are assure the current administration and critical stakeholders of our continued and overwhelming cooperation towards the peace, growth and development of the Niger Delta Region and Nigeria in general.