by Rachel Ogbu
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, has warned that the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), special intervention by the Federal Government will terminate in 2015.
Kuku who is also the Chairman of PAP, directed his message to unemployed youths and women in the Niger Delta against continuous agitation for inclusion in the programme stressing that it had become necessary to remind Nigerians that PAP is not unending, given the continuous agitation by youths of Nigeria, under all manners of umbrellas, and using deplorable tactics such as blocking national highways and coming to protest in Abuja.
“As one of the planners of this amnesty programme, I cannot kill the truth that it will terminate in 2015, it is not unending,” he said.
Kuku explained that the amnesty programme, PAP was not designed as a platform to engage unemployed youths in the Niger Delta.
He asked Niger Delta governors, which he noted have benefitted immensely in terms of federal allocation accruing to them since the programme was proclaimed, to step up and start creating jobs for young people in their states.
“States in the Niger Delta must constitute alternate alternate engagement platforms for unemployed youths and women… If we continue to open our East-West road to demonstrators (for inclusion in the amnesty programme), we are inviting adverse consequences. The Niger Delta would be back to the abyss, and Nigeria would suffer,” he said.
The Presidential Adviser said the clarification of the termination period of PAP became necessary, following reports of receipt of fresh arms and ammunition from youths in the Niger Delta, by the Joint Task Force (JTF) and other security agency, adding that this gives an impression of an unending amnesty programme.
According to him, after the second phase of the amnesty programme in October 2010, that led to the inclusion of 6,166 ex-militants, bringing the total to 263,548, the JTF and other security agencies have come up with other names of 3,642 ex-agitators for inclusion.
He disclosed that the Federal Government has set up a panel, led by Air Vice Marshal Gbun, to verify the claims, adding that if found to be true, the arms and ammunition submitted by these fresh set of ex-militants would be taken to Enugu for destruction, and the ex-agitators would be included.
“As far as Mr. President is concerned, that would be the final.”
He said upon termination in 2015, care for participants in the amnesty programme, who would still be under training, because they are undergoing four or five-year courses, would become the responsibility of another Federal Government agency, to be decided.
He argued that the amnesty programmes has been a success for the country, especially in terms of crude production output and revenue earned by the country, noting that in May 2009, before the proclamation, production output had dipped to 680,000 barrels of crude per day, from a former high of 2.2 million barrels per day. Due to the amnesty programme, the nation’s crude oil production today stands at about 2.7 million barrels per day.
Reacting to the barrage of criticisms of the Minister of Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe, who is being accused of non-performance, especially as regards perceived inability to fix the East-West road, Kuku, who reiterated that he is a Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta, said the perception was due to communication gap, and that the minister is in actual fact performing.
According to him, the road project is a massive one, with several bridges, about 70, and culverts, adding that the minister has already constructed over half of these.
He spoke glowingly about the performance in office of the Jonathan administration, especially in the ministries of Agriculture, Power, Aviation, Transport and Petroleum.