By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The House of Representatives has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a substantive Coordinator for the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the Niger Delta region without further delay.
The call was sequel to a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Hon Preye Influence Oseke (Southern Ijaw federal constituency, Bayelsa State), which was unanimously passed by members of the lower arm of the National Assembly.
The federal lawmakers noted that since the suspension of the former Coordinator of the Programme, Prof Charles Dokubo on February 18 this year by President Buhari following several allegations and petitions against him, the absence of a substantive Coordinator has created a vacuum that is making it difficult for the programme to be managed meaningfully, transparently and optimally.
This, the lawmakers argued, has rendered the Amnesty programme incapable of achieving its main objective of reintegrating ex-militants and agitators.
Following the suspension of Prof Charles Dokubo, the National Security Adviser, NSA, to the President set up a Technical Committee to oversee the activities of the Programme.
However, the House contended that the development has, in no little way, slowed down activities of the Programme and led to its inability to meet up with its mandate as well as led to several acts of civil disorders by the ex-agitators, including blocking of the East-West road on different occasions.
The Representatives have thus urged the National Security Adviser to the President and the Chief of Defence Staff to, as a matter of urgent national security concern, advise President Buhari to appoint a substantive Coordinator for the Amnesty programme for the Niger Delta region.
The substantive Coordinator to be appointed, the House of Representatives maintained, must be given a clear mandate to optimally actualise the objectives of the Programme, thus bringing it to a successful conclusion, like other disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in other parts of the world.
The House of Representatives has equally mandated its committee on National Security and Intelligence to “interface with relevant agencies of government in ensuring that a substantive Coordinator for the Presidential Amnesty programme for the Niger Delta region is urgently appointed in order to douse the already growing tension in the region”.
The lawmakers expressed concerns that the ongoing programmes of the Presidential Amnesty have, as attested to by critical stakeholders, suffered huge setbacks as a consequence of the absence of a substantive Coordinator and as such, negatively impacting on the security situation in the Niger Delta region in no little way.
The legislators noted with regrets that the youths in the region are gradually resorting to unlawful means of agitation for the development of the region, including militancy, a development that is capable of undermining the peace, security, order and good governance, thus jeopardising the already-gained mileage.
The House expressed the fear that should there be a fresh outbreak of insecurity in the Niger Delta region, “ the security apparatus of the country will be avoidably stretched beyond measure”.