Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, has cautioned the Federal Government against scrapping the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) for ex-agitators in the Niger Delta region.
He made the appeal amid a piece of advice to the people of the resource-rich area to hold their leaders accountable.
The plea was contained in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity Yomi Odunuga.
Omo-Agege, had at the weekend, played host to a socio-political organisation, New Era Forum where he described the alleged plan as “premature and ill-timed” and capable of “truncating the fragile peace in the region.”
He went on: “I don’t think that the timing is right for the amnesty programme to be scrapped. We have challenges right now in the North East, the ravages of Boko Haram and banditry in North West and North Central. Those are enough challenges already in this country. I don’t believe that this is the time to reawaken the agitations of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
“It is my hope and expectation that the policy makers who are around Mr. President will convey this to him. That is not to say that this programme must stay in perpetuity. But we don’t believe that the goals set have been completely achieved.”
According to him, “leaders in the region have failed, having been unable to judiciously utilise funds released for the development of the area.”
Omo-Agege added: “I have been privy to all of the budgetary estimates that were passed both in the eighth and ninth Assembly. And all that we are entitled to as a region has been given to us. But we have failed Mr. President because we have not been able to hold to account those to whom these resources have been entrusted.
“You don’t expect the President to start from community to community to ensure that the funds made available to us have been judiciously utilised.
“It is up to us as the people of the region, who cried out to insist that interventionist agencies like NDDC be created for us and properly funded and as a result of the youth agitation in the region that the Amnesty Programme be set up, to ask questions as to the extent that the funds have been released to us how they have been utilised?
“It is left for us to ensure we identify the projects that we believe will best meet the needs of our people. It is not in the President’s place to come to my community to tell me what project should be sited in my community to alleviate the challenges we face as a result of environmental degradation and oil exploration.”
He further noted: “It is in the place of my community to come to the President through these agencies to say this is our priority. And having provided those funds, it is left for us to get back to the President either through the National Assembly or the security agencies to say these are the projects that were provided in our communities, but not implemented.”