FG Bows To Pressure, Shelves Ending Presidential Amnesty
The Federal Government has bowed to pressure from critical stakeholders of the Niger Delta and rescinded its plans to wind down the ongoing Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) for former agitators in the region.
PAP’s interim administrator, Major General Barry Ndiomu (retd.), confirmed the government’s decision in a statement issued on Saturday by the media consultant to the programme, Donu Kogbara.
There had been media reports in the past few weeks indicating that the presidency gave Ndiomu a policy document containing “terms of reference” mandating him to work towards ending the PAP by 31 December 2022, with a calendar of activities.
However, some critical stakeholders of the Niger Delta, including the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and some groups of ex-agitators had cautioned that an abrupt termination of the PAP could endanger the relative peace in the region.
The PAP boss expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for heeding his advice that critical stakeholders across the region were strongly opposed to the scrapping of the programme.
He explained that all responsible stakeholders, nevertheless, support change and share his view that the programme needs to be totally refocused and restructured.
Accordingly, Ndiomu said the government weighed the arguments presented to it based on their merits and decided to suspend the planned shutdown.
According to him, the government’s willingness to retrace its steps demonstrated the sensitivity of President Muhammadu Buhari-led’s administration to issues affecting the Niger Delta.
The statement said, “The Federal Government has heard the concerns of Niger Delta people and, with our best interests at heart, has decided to shelve an unwanted termination agenda and transform PAP into a more sanitized, transparent, efficient, robust and sustainable entity.
“The decision was taken after the feelings of stakeholders and people of the region were communicated to the government and proves that the Buhari’s administration will not do anything to jeopardize the peace in the Niger Delta.
“We call on all stakeholders to sustain the peace in the region and help the new administration reform, refocus and reposition the programme for optimum performance”.