Aggrieved youths threaten Niger Delta peace over Amnesty Programme
The political solution to end youth restiveness in the volatile oil-producing Niger Delta region of Nigeria that was successfully introduced during the Yar’Adua/Jonathan administration may be heading for the rocks as aggrieved youths resident in the area called for the overhaul of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) or else they return to the creeks.
According to the youths, the region will witness fresh unrest and agitations despite billions of naira already expended by the Federal Government on PAP unless there is immediate overhaul of the programme which they alleged “is already a veritable conduit for fraud, high-handedness and a complete negation of the original intentions for which it was founded.”
A group, the Voice of Niger Delta Youths (VNDY), in a release made available to The Guardian during the weekend through its spokesman, Tonye Goodwill, specifically accused the head of PAP and his aides of flagrant abuse and highhandedness while at the same time boasting that nobody can touch them.
According to Goodwill: “It is very worrisome that despite series of protests and copious documentary evidences that various stakeholders in the Niger Delta have raised and made available to all the various anti-graft agencies in Nigeria about the unwholesome practices and flagrant abuses of the programme against the PAP leadership, the Federal
Government has continued to treat the matter of beaming its searchlights on its activities with lackadaisical attitude. To us who are stakeholders in the Niger Delta and close watchers of events, this speaks volumes and is in tandem with the loud boasts of the PAP leadership that they have the ears of the high and mighty in the Presidency and as such nothing would happen to them.
“As of now over 3000 Amnesty delegates presently studying in Nigerian Universities are still being owed their monthly stipends since February this year while offshore students were only recently hurriedly paid their monthly stipends in order to frustrate a globally planned protest against these corruption activities all over the world.”
The group, while lamenting that despite the fact that most of the participants in PAP were yet to be paid and with no hope in sight, the Amnesty Office has just approved a 17-man delegate to visit Belarus, United Kingdom and the United States of America to attend the graduation ceremonies of some of its offshore delegates. It also regretted that the huge amount of money that would be paid as traveling allowances and estacodes for the delegates would conveniently pay about three month stipends of the over 3000 Amnesty students studying in Nigeria Universities.
In calling for the immediate overhaul and sacking of the PAP leadership , the group urged the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo, SAN, to, as a matter of urgency and, in line with the much vaunted policy of this government to stamp out corruption to make lie of the boasts of the PAP leadership that it has the ears of the Presidency and to as a matter of urgency, stop the traveling of the 17-man delegate to Europe and America and pay instead, the stipends of the Amnesty delegates studying in Nigerian Universities.
However, sources within the organization debunked the allegations saying that the PAP was being run very transparently. It added that the issues of nonpayment of stipends to delegates in varsities in Nigeria were being addressed.