By Ebi Perekeme
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide has said it welcomes the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to carry out a probe into the financial activities of the Presidential Amnesty Office in order to bring probity and accountability into the programme.
A statement by Eric Omare, President, IYC, in Warri on March 1, said, “In the view of the IYC, this move was long overdue, however it is most welcome decision to bring sanity into the Amnesty office.”
The Presidential Amnesty programme was initiated by the government of President Yar’Adua to rehabilitate and reintegrate former Niger Delta agitators who voluntarily dropped their arms into the society.
According to the statement, “However, the programme in recent times has been hijacked by a few people to service their personal interest at the expense of the targeted beneficiaries of the programme.
“The managers of the Amnesty office in recent times have also deviated from it’s original objective of training and reintegration of ex-agitators to using the programme to financially empower only their close associates.
“This has resulted in unrest and dissatisfaction among the beneficiaries of the programme which has led to protests and blockade of major roads in the Niger Delta region in recent times.
“In summary, the amnesty programme has lost its focus and founding ideas.
It is in this light that we welcome the decision to bring sanity into the affairs of the Amnesty office by the Presidency.
“However, we oppose the idea of appointing a caretaker committee for the Amnesty office as it was done for the NDDC. We do not see the reason for appointing a caretaker committee for the Amnesty office.
“The position of the IYC is that in order to reposition the Amnesty office, the Presidency should return the programme to its owners (beneficiaries) in order to implement its original master plan.
“The amnesty programme is not an all comers programme but was created for only Ex-Agitators in the Niger Delta region with a clear cut objectives.
“Therefore, the presidency should search inward for those with good understanding of the programme to constitute the Amnesty office Management committee in its re-organization efforts.
“We will resist efforts to continue to use the Amnesty office as political patronage agency as it has recently become.”