Ijaw youth want amnesty programme extended

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The Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, has expressed mixed feelings and concerns over the inaugural address of President Muhammadu Buhari in relation to the Niger Delta region. According to a statement issued by Eric Omare, the spokesman of IYC, and made available to journalists in Yenagoa on Sunday, there is need to review the terminal date of the Amnesty Programme to accommodate those who are yet to complete the scheme.

“President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech said that the amnesty programme for ex-Niger Delta agitators would end by December 2015. The IYC appreciates the fact that the amnesty programme cannot continue forever and therefore must have a terminal date. However, the questions on the lips of beneficiaries and stakeholders in the Niger Delta region are: what would happen to those that have not been trained at as December 2015. And what about those still undergoing training or have not completed their training?”

Mr. Omare said that the termination of the programme would throw up challenges for beneficiaries of the programme who were still undergoing training and were at different level of training. The IYC spokesman said the group expected the Federal Government to allay fears of beneficiaries who were in different parts of the world and were worried that their trainings might be affected if the programme was terminated in December 2015. He added that the case of substantial number of ex-agitators who had not been trained was even more worrisome.

He, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to address challenges before the programme was terminated. On streamlining projects and programmes in the Niger Delta region to make them more effective, IYC said it would support any step of the Federal Government to strengthen institutions responsible for the development of the Niger Delta region.

The group applauded the planned streamlining of policies to rapidly develop the region. “We, however, wish to advice that any effort toward restructuring developmental institutions and projects should have the input of the people of the region at the heart of the process. “The people of the Niger Delta must be the ones to decide the shape of developmental institutions in the region.’’

The IYC said it had expected President Buhari to address issues such as cleaning up of the Niger Delta environment, implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoni. He added that also left out of the inaugural address was the menace of oil theft which had greatly contributed to environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region, which Mr. Buhari promised to tackle during the presidential campaigns.

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