by Lekan Olanrewaju
The Leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, on Monday stated that the N74bn meant for the rehabilitation of ex-militants from the Niger Delta region, made public in the recently announced 2012 budget was not enough.
He insisted that more money be allocated to the programme, as the country’s oil production had risen to 2.6 million barrels per day, as opposed to 680, 000 barrels per day when amnesty programme was instituted. He advocated for 10-day oil production proceeds to be dedicated to the programme, as oil prices and oil production are currently high. “10 days oil production proceeds, after removing cost of product and percentage proceeds due to joint ventures partners, should be allocated to the training and education of the people of the oil-bearing communities through the amnesty project.” he said.
The ex-militant also accused that a company owned by Gen. Sani Abacha was producing over 400,000 barrels of oil per day and making N2.3bn yearly.
“If a dead individual is raking N2.3billion in 365 days, why should N74billion be allocated to the amnesty project from resources gotten from underneath their soil?” he asked. “This is how the Nigerian state is being run and managed at the expense of the vast majority of her people. While some people pretend to be blind to these painful realities, some of us will not join the bandwagon of the blind men, these inequity, injustice and blatant insensitivity must be checked now if we are to have a stable polity.”
“Most people will be wondering why I have chosen to speak in favour of the amnesty project, even though I hate the tag amnesty, I know that the managers of the project have managed it so well to the benefit of the recipients,” he said.
He called for further development of the amnesty programme saying, “At present, most people who hitherto, would have been committing crimes in the creeks are now meaningfully engaged, learning and acquiring skills in various universities, polytechnics and technical institutions all over the world. As it is said, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop; the people managing the amnesty project have used the project to rehabilitate and read admit the ex-militants who lived the life of criminality into civil society.”
He also spoke against the “amnesty” tag saying: “If this project is expanded and the amnesty tag is dropped, the belief by most of us that we are being criminalised for standing up for our right will be removed and more people will benefit from the project.”