PAP warns ex-militant leaders against undermining peace in Niger Delta

ex-militantFrom Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

Former militants in the Niger Delta enrolled in the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) have been admonished to avoid anything inimical to peace and security in the region.
The administrator of the programme, Dennis Otuaro, made the charge at a stakeholders’ meeting with the theme: “Fostering, consolidating and collaborating for the peace, security, stability and development of the Niger Delta,”
At the parley with the former agitators in Warri, Delta State, he urged them to promote peace and security in the oil rich region, emphasising the importance of avoiding actions that could undermine the objectives of the PAP.
The Special Assistant on Media, Igoniko Oduma, said in a statement that participants at the meeting included leaders from all phases of the PAP.
Otuaro stressed that all stakeholders in the region must work towards this goal and consolidate the success of the amnesty programme to prevent the Niger Delta from relapsing into the pre-amnesty years of conflicts and violence, which negatively impacted the region and the country. “Sustaining the peace and security in the Niger Delta is the mandate of the amnesty programme, and we must do this for our communities, our children, and their children.”
PAP was established in 2009 to disarm, demobilise, and reintegrate former Niger Delta agitators. The first two phases of the programme have been completed, with the Amnesty Office now tasked with the reintegration of former agitators into the society and provision of institutional support for impacted communities in the Niger Delta.
Otuaro stated that PAP was an opportunity for the people of the region, which, if well leveraged, could help to resolve some of the challenges in the Niger Delta, especially human capital development.
He urged the stakeholders not to worry, as he had assurances from President Bola Tinubu that the Federal Government would prioritise the development of the Niger Delta.
“The President is very serious about the peace and security in the Niger Delta region.”
Otuaro affirmed that despite its lean budget, PAP has made significant achievements.
“Many delegates and beneficiaries from our impacted communities have received quality training, and high-level manpower skills in diverse fields of human endeavours.
“Today, several people are gainfully employed as air traffic controllers, flight instructors, aircraft maintenance engineers, pilots, and underwater welders.
“Others have also been trained and empowered through the programme, and are doing very well in various trades, such as fashion design, unisex salon, fish farming, baking and confectionery, rice production, hairdressing, cement, and building materials.
“In addition, several PAP scholarship students have made First Class and Second Class Upper in different courses of study, including Medical and Clinical Sciences, in universities at home and abroad. My leadership is committed to sustaining this trajectory of academic excellence, which is being applauded by well-meaning individuals and organisations across the region, and indeed, the country,” he stated.
Otuaro pledged to enhance the operations of the Amnesty Office to make it more responsive to stakeholders’ needs, and promised regular meetings to get valuable feedback from delegates, and respond swiftly to complaints.
He explained that the need to make the amnesty programme more effective in achieving its mandate prompted him to host the stakeholders’ meeting.
Many of the delegates at the event commended the administrator of the amnesty programme for the initiative, while raising concerns about some aspects of the programme.
The major complaints centred around financial difficulties, with most arguing that the N65,000 stipend had become too meagre to meet their basic needs, and should be reviewed.
According to Gilbert Isobe, former agitator from Bayelsa, “When we started receiving the N65,000 in 2009, the money was sufficient, but after 15 years, it cannot take care of anything now. We, therefore, plead with the Federal Government to increase the budget of the amnesty programme, so that the stipends can be increased to at least N150,000.”
At the end of the meeting, all the delegates and stakeholders passed a vote of confidence on the administrator, Otuaro, commending the president for appointing him.
“He was part of the struggle and one of us. This is the best decision the President has made,” said Prince Emeka Igwe, a delegate from Imo State.


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