The leadership of the pan-Ijaw youth group, Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, has raised fears over second wave of militancy in the Niger Delta region if the federal government fails to completely implement the full package of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
The council said the country would not survive a fresh return to militancy by aggrieved youths in the region and wondered why the government chose to play politics with an important scheme like PAP.
Recall that the amnesty project was initiated in 2010 to take youths out of the creeks and integrate them into the society through a well-organised programme of empowerment and development of the region.
But, the IYC President, Deacon Timothy Peter Igbifa, in a statement issued to newsmen, on Tuesday, said PAP’s cardinal objective of integration, empowerment and regional development had remained a mirage.
The IYC boss regretted that the amnesty scheme had not gone beyond its disarmament phase adding that the federal government had failed to advance the programme to the next phase because of the continuous free-flow of crude oil production.
“The amnesty scheme has not lived up to its purpose. The Federal Government has failed woefully to take the programme beyond the disarmament and demobilisation stage because they feel they have successfully brought the youths out of the creeks and nothing is disturbing oil production. So, the government is currently playing politics with the scheme”, he said.
Igbifa said all stakeholders had waited in vain to see multiple jobs created in the region by the amnesty programme and the transformation of the Niger Delta into modern cities bubbling with economic prosperity and social harmony.
He said the government was toying with fire by mismanaging the amnesty programme as it could lead to massive return of the youths to the creeks.
But the IYC boss said the appointment of Col. Miland Dixon Dikio (retd) as the interim administrator of PAP had provided the government another opportunity to reposition the programme.
He asked the government to give maximum support to Dikio warning that if the federal government failed to act fast in implementing the complete PAP framework, militancy would resurface in the region.
Igbifa said: “A second wave of militancy is looming in the region and it will be very difficult for the country to survive it. The only thing left for the government to do is ensure all promises contained in the amnesty programme are fulfilled without further.
“With the appointment of the current interim administrator, an opportunity has been opened to redeem the situation. Any attempt to maintain the business-as-usual approach to the management of PAP will lead to fresh militancy in the region.
“Our interest is in the infrastructural development of the Niger Delta which is the responsibility of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs and the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP). This developmental plan must be activated immediately.
“We need environmental remediation of the Niger Delta region to be coordinated by these interventionist agencies and programmes. They should also include the taking care of people from impacted and affected communities.
“We need the quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law to promote equity and entrench peace in the Niger Delta. The bill is supposed to help host communities within the region take advantage of the oil economy in the region”.
Igbifa insisted that the era of paying less attention to the implementation of the entire presidential amnesty package was over saying the IYC would continue to advocate the absolute enforcement of the entire components.