Ijaw youths in Niger Delta have on Wednesday, urged militants operating in the Niger Delta region to shield their swords and allow President Muhammadu Buhari to implement his developmental projects in the region.
The youths under the aegis of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, said they were excited at the recent letter the President sent to the National Assembly seeking more funding for the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
Speaking in Yenagoa, the state capital, the President of IYC, Udengs Eradiri, said the request for more funds for the Amnesty Office portrayed Buhari a listening President.
Eradiri said though the action of the President came later than expected, it would go a long way to calm the frayed nerves in the region adding that it was in conformity with the position of IYC.
He advised the President to show similar commitment in improving the lots of other institutions created to develop the region such as the Niger Delta Ministry and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He said, “The President just sent a letter to the National Assembly requesting for more funds especially to support the amnesty programme. The breakdown of law and order in the Niger Delta is largely attributed to shortage of funding to the office.
“We want to commend Mr. President and thank him because once we have this kind of commitment, Niger Delta question will be resolved. We look forward to doing everything possible on our part to ensure that there is peace.
“We are appealing to the President to in the same spirits look into the Niger Delta Ministry as well as funds that are owed NDDC”.
Eradiri further asked the President to activate his anti-corruption drive in the monitoring and tracking funds allocated to Niger Delta interventionist agencies.
Apart from ensuring discipline in the usage of allocated funds, he said Buhari should ensure that the funds were managed by people who understood the issues and problems in the region.
He said, “We want to also state that while approving funds to institutions like this, the anti-corruption drive must be activated to ensure that the institutions live up to expectation to ensure that funds are not diverted.
“Those in the position to manage the amnesty office and other institutions addressing the issues of the region must be people who have knowledge of the issues. If he doesn’t have the right people to address the issues, even the funding will be misplaced”.
While asking militants to give the president a chance, he said: “Yes, the militants should give the government a chance. But the government needs to be proactive and not falling into this stereotype attitude.
“The President may be doing the right thing but when there is delay, his body language may be misinterpreted. Like if this current step of the President had come earlier and other steps we expect like pronouncing the resumption of the maritime university, l don’t see any sane agitator going against him.
“The President has taken an action. But did we have to lose all these lives, economy and all the constraints and emotional crisis before such a letter should be transmitted.
“Sometimes when you do something late, it has repercussions. If the actions Mr. President is taking now had been taken earlier, we wouldn’t have gotten to this point where the economy will be lying prostrate. We need more proaactive steps from the President”.
To ensure general peace in the country, Eradiri further advised the President to extend Olive branches to other parts of the country and ethnic nationalities causing distractions for him.
He suggested that Buhari should look into the issues of the detained Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Shia Muslim cleric, Ibrahim Zakzaky to ensure total reconciliation and peace in the country.
“We want to commend Mr.President for the bold steps; he should extend it to other parts of the country. He should make decision that will bring everybody to the roundtable.
“The issue of El Zakzaky, the IPOB leader and other issues that are creating more divisions and distractions for the President should be looked into in the spirits of reconciliation.
“He had negotiated with Boko Haram. He is negotiating with the Niger Delta. He should extend the Olive branch to other facets of the polity creating distractions for him. We desire him to succeed because if he does, Nigeria will succeed. If he fails, all of us will fail,” he said.