Niger Delta ex-agitators threaten renewed attacks over delayed payment of stipends
Amidst recent calls by the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) on the federal government to appoint a credible person from the Niger Delta region as replacement for the suspended Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Quaker Dokubo, ex-agitators have again threatened to stage a showdown in the region over non-payment of stipends and contractors in the programme.
Speaking with newsmen in Yenagoa on Wednesday, chairman of third phase of the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme, General Ebi John, regretted that with the ongoing lockdown, every economic activity has come to a halt, thereby increasing the hardship among ex-agitators in the region.
He maintained that the situation has been further aggravated by the delay in payment of their monthly stipends, coupled with the nonpayment of contractors, which has increased the frustration of ex-agitators, with many of them languishing in hunger and want.
According to General John, the ex-agitators cannot stay at home to observe the social distancing rule under the present excruciating hunger and frustrating coronavirus pandemic.
“If the federal government fails to pay our stipends as at when due, we shall have other option than to mobilise ourselves to embark on rampage along major federal roads.
According to him the nonpayment of contractors in the programme has resulted in the stoppage of various empowerment training programmes.
“It is unthinkable that a responsible government will engage contractors in empowerment training programmes for the such contractors to stop the trainings half way because nonpayment, making it difficult for the ex-agitators to complete their empowerment training programmes.
“The lockdown has further triggered poverty in the region, as food prices continue to rise. Poverty causes hunger, hundreds of ex-agitators now live with hunger and malnourishment because they simply cannot afford to buy enough food”, General John lamented.
Meanwhile, factional leader of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Mr. Eric Omare has issued a threat that “We will resist efforts to continue to use the Amnesty office as political patronage agency as it has recently become”, saying the IYC was opposed to the appointment of a caretaker committee to run the Amnesty programme.
Mr Omare who made the statement recently in Warri in Delta State, maintained that the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme was created exclusively for ex-agitators, while stressing the urgent need for the programme to be returned to the original owners, the ex-agitators in the Niger Delta who willingly dropped their arms to embrace peace in the region.
The IYC boss reiterated that the programme was not for all comers, but was specially created for ex-agitators in the region with clear cut objectives.
It will be recalled that the National Security Adviser (NSA) recently set up a Caretaker Committee to look into the activities of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The development came following numerous allegations and petitions surrounding the programme as well as the suspension of the Coordinator, Professor Charles Dokubo.
Part of the Committee’s task is to ensure that allocated resources are properly utilised in consonance with government’s objective of alleviating problems in the Niger Delta region, and stamping out corruption in the Amnesty Programme