Tinubu is Completely Ignorant Of The Impact Of Amnesty Programme - Joseph Evah

2013-10-18
http://www.thenigerianvoice.com/ and Vanguard Newspaper

Former Lagos State Governor and leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is indisputably an influential and prominent member of the political class in Nigeria. Highly respected within the opposition wing, Tinubu is seen as one man who played key role in the entrenchment and sustenance of democracy in the country.

The Asiwaju of Lagos is known as one of the major critics of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government, since the current democratic dispensation came into being in 1999, when the military finally surrendered and went back to the barracks.

The erstwhile governor recently took a swipe at the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, saying that the amnesty programme was simply a conduit for pals of Mr. President and a slush fund for the loyal boys.

In the words of the Jagaban: "The amnesty conceived from inception has been corrupted and hijacked by the President's clique. It is one of Nigeria's drainpipes. A slush fund for political expeditions and a conduit to siphon money to the boys."

However, this assertion by the ex-Lagos helmsman appears to be completely contrary to the views of many observers, who feel that the Niger Delta amnesty has been one of the best programmes ever implemented by the federal government. It is believed to be one programme that has brought about the restoration of peace in the Niger Delta and stabilization of the country's economy. This, perhaps, explains why Tinubu's remark about the amnesty programme was widely and roundly condemned.

Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta matters and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Hon. Kingsley Kuku wasted no time in giving it back to the APC stalwart. Kuku through the PAP's Head of Media and Communications, Daniel Alabrah, blasted the Tinubu, noting that he (Tinubu) lacks proper understanding of the programme.

Hear Kuku: "A total number of 30,000 persons are enlisted in the Amnesty Programme. Of this number, over 16,000 have been deployed to universities as well as vocational training centres within the country and abroad for various skills acquisition programmes and formal education. It is regrettable that as a former governor of a state like Lagos, his (Tinubu) stock-in-trade is not only to politicize every policy or programme of the President Goodluck

Jonathan administration but also vilely tries to achieve political capital through such less than salutary criticisms. As a security stabilisation programme for the hitherto restive Niger Delta, the amnesty programme has achieved its objective, through well thought-out vocational training and formal education schemes for the former agitators in the region."

Continuing, the PAP boss asked: "Is it a programme that has trained no fewer than 16,000 Niger Delta youths in three years that is a drain pipe? Is it a scheme through which commercial pilots have been produced for Nigeria that is a drain pipe? What about the delegates currently undergoing jet/type-rating training at the Lufthansa Pilot Institute in Germany? Is it a programme that is producing aviation professionals, aeronautical engineers, marine/maritime technicians and technologists that is a conduit?" At the peak of the crisis in 2009, Nigeria's crude production fell from 2.2 million barrels per day to as low as 700,000 barrels per day. Today, following the proclamation and implementation of the amnesty programme, crude production hovers between 2.4 million and 2.6 million barrels per day."

For the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta affairs, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman, it was unfair for anybody to describe the amnesty programme as one of the conduits used by the federal government to siphon public funds.

Reacting to Tinubu's comment disparaging the amnesty programme, Abatemi-Usman said: "Contrary to the thinking in some quarters, I make bold to say that the Niger Delta amnesty under the direct supervision of Kingsley Kuku, remains the most successful programme ever run by the federal government. Though there were doubts at the initial stage as to whether it was going to yield any fruitful result, today, the amnesty programme coordinated by Kuku, has made very substantial impact in the return of peace to the Niger Delta region."

The Senator added that, "September last year, I led a delegation of the National Assembly on an oversight/inspection visit to the Afrika Union Aviation Academy in Mafikeng and the Flight Training Services in Midrand, South Africa, where some Niger Delta youths were being trained as pilots. From what we saw and experienced during our interaction with the Niger Delta youths, it was clear that the amnesty programme gives us hope. And we could see that the funds allocated to the programme were being judiciously and prudently applied by the Niger Delta amnesty office."

Chairman of the Delta State chapter of the Phase II of the amnesty programme, 'General' Kingsley Muturu, rebuked the opposition leader, describing his comments "as mischievous, baseless and another attempt by Tinubu and his cohorts in All Progressives Congress to divert the attention of President Goodluck Jonathan from implementing his transformation agenda. Rather than applaud the Presidency for the successful implementation of the amnesty programme, which has gone a long way in restoring peace to the Niger Delta region and paving way for increased revenue for the country, Tinubu is orchestrating baseless allegations against the programme. For the avoidance of doubt, the amnesty programme, under the Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, is being properly managed as attested to by the over 30,000 youths that have been enlisted into the programme out of which over 16,000 have been trained in various fields. We use this medium to tell Bola Tinubu to steer clear of the amnesty programme because he is not from the Niger Delta region and should not speak on matters that concern the region."

By the same token, the Ijaw Motoring Group (IMG) also described as unfortunate the declaration by former Lagos Chief Executive that the amnesty programme is a drainpipe, maintaining that he is completely ignorant of the impact of the programme. In a statement signed by Comrade Andrew Elijah, Chief of Staff to IMG National Coordinator, Comrade Joseph Evah, the group wondered why Tinubu appeared to have moved from his earlier position on the abandonment of the Niger Delta region over the years. The IMG said the APC chieftain's utterance is a clear indication that he did not do a follow-up study on what led to the upsurge in oil production in the region and its resultant effect on the Nigerian economy, which according to the group, was obviously as a result of the impact of the amnesty programme.

 

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