The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, has called on the federal government to put off alleged plans to scrap the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) for ex-agitators in the Niger Delta region.
Such action, he said, would be premature and ill-timed and could jeopardise the fragile peace in the region.
Mr Omo-Agege spoke in Abuja on Sunday when he played host to a socio-political organisation, New Era Forum, according to a statement issued by his media aide, Yomi Odunuga.
The amnesty programme, introduced by a former president, Umaru Yar’Adua, has been enmeshed in allegations of corruption since inception. The allegations have led to the exit of the programme’s past leaders – the most recent being Charles Dokubo who was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari in February.
In this regard, there have been debates for the scrapping or retention of the programme.
Addressing the group, Mr Omo-Agege said the timing is not right for the Amnesty Programme to be scrapped.
“We have challenges right now in the North East, the ravages of Boko Haram, banditry in North West and North Central. Those are enough challenges already in this country. I don’t believe that this is the time to reawaken the agitations of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
“It is my hope and expectation that the policymakers who are around Mr President will convey this to Mr President that to the extent that there is any such plan at this time, it is premature and ill-timed. That is not to say that this programme must stay in perpetuity. But we don’t believe that the goals set have been completely achieved.”
While he urged the group to hold leaders in the region to account, he said the leaders have failed, having been unable to judiciously utilise funds released for the development of the region.
“You don’t expect Mr President moving from community to community to ensure that the fundings made available to us have been judiciously utilised. It is up to us as the people of the region who cried out to insist that interventionist agencies like NDDC be created for us and properly funded and as a result of the youth agitation in the region that the Amnesty Programme be set up.
“It is left for us to ask questions on how the fundings released to us have been utilised. It is left for us to ensure we identify the projects that we believe will best meet the needs of our people. So Mr President has done his part, we are the ones that have failed our people,” he stated.
Earlier, the leader of the group, Sunday Onyewonsa, stressed the need to declare a state of emergency on Niger Delta roads. This is even as he called for a security summit that will proffer solutions to insecurity in the region.