by TONY JOHN, port harcourt
The Watchdog for Progressives Ijaw (WPI) has endorsed the new Acting Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Program (PAP), Maj.-Gen. Barry Ndiomu and his new mandate to update the original intent of the show.
WPI, in a statement signed in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by its publicity secretary, Charles Taylor, said that Ndiomu deserved the support of all stakeholders in the region as his mission was in line with enhancing peace. , progress and development of the region.
Taylor, former faction chairman of the (world) Ijaw Youth Council, lamented that some miscreants deliberately made diabolical innuendos and misrepresented Ndiomu to pit him against critical stakeholders in the region.
The popular Ijaw youth leader explained that Ndiomu’s mission was not to end the PAP as was speculated in some quarters, but rather to refine, reform and change the program to actualize its original purpose.
He said: “Those who fly the kite to end the PAP are simply trying to create confusion and bad blood in the region. Our interaction with Ndiomu so far has shown that he has come with a mandate to refocus the program to bring his original mandate up to date.
“It is obvious that the program has deviated from its original intent and purpose. In conflict zones around the world where Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) was introduced, it was over within five years.
“DDR and by extension the amnesty program does not last forever and will not last forever in Nigeria simply because it relates to the Niger Delta. All DDR programs have exit paths.
“The number of beneficiaries is expected to decrease as they are trained, empowered and reintegrated into the system until the last beneficiary is reintegrated.”
Taylor said it was unacceptable and unimaginable that PAP had continued to have the same number of beneficiaries for 13 years.
He said that part of Ndiomu’s mandate was to remove all the obstacles that were holding back the progress and smooth functioning of the PAP, and insisted that those who had been trained and empowered were supposed to have exited the programme.
Taylor said: “We understand that some self-styled generals have started sponsoring a smear campaign against Ndiomu because they believe his mission will end his fraud at PAP.
“Their beneficiary lists are full of ghost names and they have been raising this money and living large for a long time. They do not want to hear that there is a plan to introduce transparency and accountability that is capable of ending their corrupt practices.
“Furthermore, amnesty and DDR come with a label of criminality. How long will the Niger Delta continue to carry this criminal baggage associated with amnesty because we want to satisfy the interest of a few selfish individuals against the overall development and progress of the Niger Delta?
“Some of these self-proclaimed generals own mansions across the country, fly private jets, own exotic vehicles and have become contractors living on the splurge. However, they still want to continue being PAP beneficiaries to hoard the stipends of the living and ghost names.”
Taylor said that while most stakeholders in the region supported scaling back the program, his group would prefer to transmute it into a sustainable scheme.
Furthermore, he urged Ndiomu to remain courageous in fulfilling his mission at PAP and advised him to immediately introduce biometrics for former agitators to enable him to remove ghost names from the list of beneficiaries.