Senator representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Foster Ogola has urged the Niger Delta ex-militnats to be patient with the federal government over the delay in payment of feeding and accommodation allowances of those undergoing trainees abroad under the amnesty programme.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP lawmaker, who spoke with our correspondent in Abuja, expressed optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari administration would not scrap the programme, but improve on it to make life worthy of living for the youth.
Ogola advised the youth not to yield to any pressure or instigation to take up arms again, saying “going back to the creek is not the solution to the delay in paying their allowances or appointment of a new Presidential Adviser on Amnesty Programme”.
“President Buhari cannot be blamed for the stoppage of the fund to the beneficiaries for two months. He needs to study the act of governance again after several years of leaving office as Head of State.
“I will appeal to our youth to continue to exercise patience with the president as he will not scrap the amnesty programme. In fact, no administration can scrap the programme because it has become a necessity since it is being funded by oil resources of the Niger Delta and not from anyone else.
“Therefore, I want them to be patient with the present administration as it has started trying its best to see that there is peace in the country. I will not want them to yield to any pressure or enticements from any quarter so that they can stay out of trouble”, he advised.
Though Ogola believed that the problems surrounding the amnesty programme would be give attention by the federal government since it has approved lifelines to the states to clear the backlog of salaries they are owing, he however, called for urgent action so as to prevent another round of crisis in the Niger Delta.
The lawmaker particularly urged Buhari to consider other ex-militants who are still waiting to be captured under the programme, disclosing that only one-third of the youth are presently enjoying the programme.
Ogola, who lamented the neglect which the people of Niger Delta have suffered over the years under various administrations, said “amnesty is just a tip of the icebergs to the problems we have in the region”.
He said “while amnesty for the youth has just provided partial solution to the crises in the Niger Delta, nothing has been done to environmental degradation, deprivation, social economic inequality, among other problems that our people face on daily basis”.
He also appealed to the federal government to speedily deal with the challenges of insecurity being caused by the Boko Haram insurgents, especially in the North East.
The senator said though he did not oppose amnesty for the insurgents as being advocated by some individuals and groups if such step would bring a lasting peace to the country, he maintained that source of such funds must be defined and explained to Nigerians.