By Ebi Perekeme
Ahead of the full implementation of the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) in 2022, civil society organisations have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a permanent head for the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, a coalition of civil society organisations under the aegis Peace For Niger Delta (PND) said this has become necessary for the continued sustenance of peace in the Niger Delta region.
PND also asked Buhari to immediately change the leadership of PAP from an interim administrator to presidential adviser to the president on Presidential Amnesty Programme.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Chief Douglas Charles, said a permanent adviser should be appointed to handle the operations of PAP and coordinate the thousands of ex-agitators who are already getting agitated over the seemingly lack of attention to their plight.
He said, “At this crucial time that a new dawn has birthed in the petroleum industry with the historic signing into law of the PIA by Mr President, the Niger Delta region doesn’t need any form of crisis from ex-agitators because of their stipends or monies for training and entrepreneurships programmes.
“Mr President’s historic signing of the PIA is a welcome development for the oil sector and a gateway to transforming the region. A new head of the PAP on permanent appointment would help the ex-agitators break away from the fetters of dependency and crime.
“The job of the PAP is to transform ex-agitators into entrepreneurs and/or employable citizens who will become net contributors to the economy of the region and the country through effective collaboration with relevant public and private institutions and state governments in the region.
“We therefore call on Mr President to restore the mandate of the Amnesty Programme to its original intent and take service to the Niger Delta where the ex-agitators are domiciled by training the ex-agitators to become entrepreneurs who will act as agents of change to reverse the narrative of a people dependent on stipends but to self-actualised employers of labour and net contributors to the economic prosperity of the Niger Delta,” he said.