Sustaining amnesty no doubt remains the only panacea
to peace, development of the Niger Delta region writes
correspondent, CHRIS ERIYAMREMU

When late President Umaru
Musa Yar’Adua in June 2009
declared amnesty for all exmilitants
in the Niger Delta
region, stakeholders who
prevailed on ex-militants
then to accept amnesty, also
embraced the offer.
Shortly after the declaration
of amnesty, which was
recommended by the
Presidential Panel on Amnesty
and Disarmament for Militants
of the Niger Delta, an unusual
peace returned to the region.
From 2009 till date, the federal
government has confirmed
that the amnesty programme
has brought lasting peace to
the region, which has also
increased crude oil production
in Niger Delta to about 2.2m
barrels per day.
However, there have been
allegations of irregularities
and fraud being perpetuated
by handlers of the amnesty
programme, where most of the
ex-militants have not benefited
from the programme.
Some of the aggrieved exmilitants
had also threatened to
return to the creeks, a situation
posing serious danger to the
prevailing peace in the region.
Stakeholders have continued
to call for the scrapping of the
amnesty programme, while
others want the amnesty
programme investigated
because it is assumed funds
allocated to it were not properly
used for the benefit of the exmilitants.
Many of the aggrieved
ex-militants who have not
benefited relied on the
statement of late President
Yar’Adua, which read,
“Whereas the government
desires that all persons who
have directly or indirectly
participated in militancy
in the Niger Delta should
return to respect constituted
authority; and whereas many
persons who had so engaged in militancy now desire to apply
for and obtain amnesty and
“Now therefore, I, Umaru
Musa Yar’Adua, President of
the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
after due consultation with
the Council of States and in
exercise of the powers conferred
upon me by the provisions of
Section 175 of the Constitution
of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, make the following
“I hereby grant amnesty
and unconditional pardon to
all persons who have directly
or indirectly participated in
the commission of offences
associated with militant
activities in the Niger Delta.
“The pardon shall take effect
upon the surrender and handing
over of all equipment, weapons,
arms and ammunition and Cont’d on 19
execution of the renunciation
of Militancy Forms specified
in the schedule hereto, by the
affected persons at the nearest
collection centre established
for the purpose of government
in each of the Niger Delta
“The unconditional pardon
granted pursuant to this
proclamation shall extend
to all persons presently
being prosecuted for
offences associated with
militant activities; and this
proclamation shall cease to
have effect from Sunday,
October 4, 2009.
Immediately after the
declaration by the late
President, thousands of exmilitants
came out from the
creeks, dropped their arms and embraced the amnesty
And when the immediate
past President, Dr. Goodlcuk
Jonathan assumed office, he
ensured that the amnesty
programme was sustained. But
many of the ex-militants have
complained of not benefiting
from the programme in the past
five years.
But, the revelation by
President Muhammadu Buhari,
on May 29, to end the amnesty
programme by December,
has caused anxiety across the
region as most ex-militants
who have not benefited are not
in support of the President’s
Ex-militants under the
aegis of Third Phase Amnesty
Programme have swiftly
rejected the December
deadline to end the amnesty
programme, saying it would be
consequential and dangerous.
This was contained in a
statement signed by the
National Secretary of the
group, Comrade Tam Odogwu,
who described the statement
as shocking and said the
programme has contributed
immensely to the relative peace
and stability in the Niger Delta
region, and boosted the rate
of crude oil production and
oil exportation activities in the
He said, “The Niger Delta
ex-agitators under the Third Phase Amnesty programme
congratulate President
Muhammadu Buhari for his
smooth and peaceful swearingin
ceremony at Abuja.
“Indeed, it was victory for
Nigerians and Nigeria in the
comity of nations. The nation
will ever remains grateful for
the sacrifice and love by former
President Goodluck Jonathan for this nation to remain
peacefully and indivisible.
“Nevertheless, we express
shock over the statement made
by President Muhammadu
Buhari in his inaugural speech
as regards to the Niger Delta
amnesty programme.’’
We want to unequivocally
state here that we reject the
deadline of terminating
amnesty programme by
December 2015.’’
“We the Niger Delta exagitators
and youths are very
ready to support Buhari’s
administration, but will not
support the plan to end the
amnesty programme and will
resist any attempt to do so,
because such appears to be
another round of injustice for
the Niger Deltans.”
Odogwu made it clear that the
statement made by President
Buhari was not in the interest of
the people of the region.
“We want to also state that
it is not in the best interest
of the Niger Delta region
because it does not represent
the aspiration of the people of
the region, and any attempt to
carry on with this declaration
of ending the amnesty
programme in December will
fan the embers of restiveness
that has been abated.
“Even though President
Buhari has other plans to
consolidate on the success
recorded by the programme
initiated by Yar’Adua and
continued by former President
Goodluck Jonathan, which he
had earlier promised to invest
heavily in the projects and
programmes currently in place,
his alternative move will make
his promise unattractive to the
people,” he said.
He also pointed out that the
amnesty programme was still
having numerous programmes
whose completion will not be
feasible in December date of
the programme termination’’
therefore we urge the President
to have a rethink on his earlier
“We want to inform our
President that the programme
still has numerous students in
various universities in Nigeria
and abroad. And some of these
students will graduate in the
next three years to come. The
programme still have more
than 9, 000 ex-agitators who are
yet to be admitted in various
schools and different vocational
“There is no way over
9, 000 who are waiting for
their various admission and
vocational trainings and those
already in various schools
and training centres can
miraculously complete their
schooling and trainings within
this year or the next two years.
“We urge and challenge
President Muhammadu Buhari
to execute more developmental
and empowerment
programmes for the Niger
Deltans because they are the
goose that lays the golden egg
and not to end this existing
and functional programme that
has yielded peculiar result and
overwhelming progress,” he
Successive governments,
particularly the outgoing
administration was accused
of not providing the basic
needs of the people, despite
the continued oil exploitation
and exploration by the
government and multinational
oil companies.
The Buhari government is
expected to seriously tackle
the unemployment problem
in the region, by reviving all
moribund Sea Ports in the
region, which include Burutu,
Koko, Warri and as well revive
all other ailing companies such
as Delta Steel Company, Aladja-
Ovwian and Bendel Glass
Company, Ughelli.
President Buhari is also
expected to reintroduce
agriculture in the region,
where youths, graduates and
even the ex-militants shall be
encouraged to go into farming,
because oil companies in the
region cannot provide jobs for
the youths and ex-militants in
the region.
The people of Niger Delta
are hopeful that Buhari’s
administration will attract
development to the region,
while the people are willing
to provide the enabling
atmosphere for government to
implement its developmental
policies in the region.