BY DAN ALABRAH
June 18, 2014 – The attention of the Presidential Amnesty Office has been drawn to a report in a section of the media following the submission of the report of the Energy Committee of the National Conference in which a reference was made to the amnesty programme as benefitting “a few persons” in the Niger Delta.
We deem it necessary to make some clarification due to the interest the report has generated and for it not to be misconstrued as a purported indictment of the implementation of the amnesty programme.
While making a presentation during plenary on Monday on behalf of the committee, which recommended that a 10 per cent equity be given to oil producing (host) communities in the Niger Delta, a former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, noted that the proclamation of amnesty for the former agitators in the Niger Delta only addressed the issue of restiveness for a number of youths of the region but did not capture the neglect of the host communities.
The committee’s report stated in parts: “In fact, the amnesty settlement has settled only a few young men in the Niger Delta. It has yet to settle the Niger Delta communities.
“It is only fair therefore that Niger Delta communities in oil producing blocks under divestment be given equity participation in the new entries buying up the IOCs’ (International Oil Companies) interest, since derivation share of revenue allocation that accrued to the states over the years has had little or no impact on the oil producing communities…
“For the communities to be overlooked by government that has the right of consent to these deals does not make good sense for business or security of facilities.”
Clearly, there is no ambiguity about this as some persons with other interests have tried to impute.
The amnesty proclamation was not meant for every youth in the region but only captured those involved in an agitation that had virtually crippled the Nigerian economy due to the destruction of oil installations in the Niger Delta at the time. The 30,000 amnesty beneficiaries today is still a small representation of the total number of youths in the whole region. So the committee was not wrong in bringing this to the fore.
“The use of the term ‘settlement’ by Senator Ladoja is perhaps being taken out of context by those who want to play politics with it.
It is equally important to restate that the amnesty proclamation and its ongoing implementation was not meant to address infrastructure development of the region. There are organs and ministries of government responsible for this.
“So, the committee nor its report never indicted the amnesty programme. Neither did it cast any doubt about its implementation. Indeed, the National Conference committee has reinforced the need for implementation of the total development package for the Niger Delta, of which the amnesty programme is just a tiny part.
“So far, the government has shown commitment to the infrastructure development of the region, which is being undertaken by the relevant ministries and agencies of government just as it is sincere about its commitment to the New Towns Development aspect of the package.”
Dan Alabrah is Head of Media and Communication, Presidential Amnesty Office, Abuja