Amnesty Programme: Ex-Militants decry marginalisation, urge Buhari to appoint Akwa Ibom indigene next coordinator

By Appolos Christian

Akwa Ibom State indigenes under aegis of Akwa Ibom Phase 2 Ex-Agitators Forum of the Presidential Amnesty Programme has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a qualified indigene of the State as the next Special Adviser/National Coordinator of the Programme.

The ex-agitators also called for the restructuring of the programme to include representatives of the different states of the Niger Delta.

According to a statement signed by the leadership of the Forum, Comrade Imoh Stephen Okoko, and made availableto Journalists in Abuja on Thursday the 4th of March, 2020, the programme has had its leadership from other ethnic nationalities from the region mainly from Ijaw, leaving the Ibibio from Akwa Ibom with no position.

He said it can only be fair to name the next coordinator of the programme from the state.

He said: “We wish to remind the Presidency of the significant role of Akwa Ibom State as a major stakeholder in the Nigerian project nay the Niger Delta project considering the huge contributions the State has made to the country’s and the region’s oil revenues as a major oil producing State.

“Unfortunately, since the enunciation of the Amnesty Programme, successive administrations have failed to accord the State its pride of place through appointments to key positions in the Amnesty Office, including the position of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta/National Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (CPAP).

“Sadly, other ethnic nationalities within the region, particularly the Ijaws, have always been given the monopoly of occupying the leadership positions of the Amnesty Programme as if it were their birthright, while the Ibibio nation is treated as ‘second class’.

“For instance, the first Chairman of the Programme, Retd. Major General Godwin Abbe hails from Benin City, Edo State. His successor, Timi Alaibe is from Bayelsa State, followed by Kingsley Kemebradigha Kuku from Arogbo, Ondo State, Retd. Brigadier General P.T. Boroh from Sagbama, Bayelsa State and Professor Charles Quaker Dokubo from Abonnema in Rivers State.

“These States and ethnic nationalities have had their own share of the Programme’s leadership – and it would only be fair and expedient that Akwa Ibom State be considered in the next appointment. We have been very silent for too long as a mark of respect for His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but we cannot continue to remain so longer than necessary. Our silence should not be taken for granted; neither should it be considered as a mark of weakness.

“For fairness, equity and justice, we hereby strongly demand for the appointment of a qualified indigene of Akwa Ibom State as the next Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta/National Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.”

The statement went to recall that upon the sack of the erstwhile coordinator, Professor Dokubo, the President set up a Caretaker Committee, Okoko appealed to the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno to include impeccable Akwa Ibom indegenes as members.

He also called for the total restructuring of the Amnesty Programme to accommodate representatives from the states of the Niger Delta, alleging that a few individuals have pocketed the office.

“We request that the National Security Adviser (NSA) who has been mandated by President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently set up a Caretaker Committee to look into the activities of the Programme, should include an Akwa Ibom indigene of impeccable character as a member of the Committee.

“The Office of the National Security Adviser should see the Committee as one that is going on a redemption mission to right the many wrongs that have been committed over the years, and ensure that allocated resources are properly and judiciously utilized in line with government’s objective of alleviating problems in the region, as well as stamping out the rot in the Amnesty Office.

“In addition, the Amnesty Office should be restructured without delay. As presently constituted, the Amnesty office is administered by a few powerful, and biased individuals who run the establishment as if it is their own personal project, without checks and balances and this creates room for sectionalism and favouritism.

“We, therefore, demand for the immediate restructuring of the Niger Delta Amnesty programme to make it more functional and to ensure that it fulfills its statutory mandate. The re-constitution of the Amnesty Office should include representatives of the different states of the Niger Delta who will oversee the day-to-day running of the programme to ensure that the objectives of setting up the programme are achieved as well as protect the interests of their respective states to avoid further discrimination, sectionalism and marginalization of some states as currently experienced. What is worth doing, is worth doing well”, Okoko said in the statement.

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