LAGOS — TheFederal Government, said, yesterday that it will not go back on its words to terminate the amnesty programme for Niger Delta ex-militants in 2015.
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman, PresidentialAmnesty Programme, Mr Kingsley Kuku, reiterated government’s position atthe 7th Business Law Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos.
He also canvassed a reduction in the N65,000 monthly stipend paid to beneficiaries in training to the statutory N18,000 minimum wage, so that those undergoing training did not earn more than those awaiting training.
According to him, failure to draw the curtain on the programme will bring about instability in the region.
Kuku, who noted that the Amnesty Office was currently grappling with exit strategy challenges, said that the present scenario was not envisaged at thetime of the Presidential Amnesty Proclamation in 2009.
He said: “It will be in the best interest of Nigeria for government to terminatethe presidential amnesty programme by 2015. If it is not closed by 2015, it will lose its taste. This is because it will become an alternative government inthe Niger Delta.
“We are currently battling exit strategy challenges. If we reduce the monthly stipend to those in training to the prescribed minimum wage for the country, which is N18,000, it will discourage more people from taking to militancy.
“We should have stopped paying N65,000 after pulling the agitators from thecreeks and fixing it at the minimum wage could have been ideal. To avoid further crisis, the programme should end in 2015. We must be ready to exitthe programme. It is for this reason that governors of the region must supportalternative programmes for youth engagement.”
Kuku noted that the gains of the programme could be eroded if government failed to close the programme by 2015 because of fresh agitations for enlistment by youths of the region, who now see militancy as a way of accessing public funds.
He said that his office was at present, exploring possibilities of getting trained ex-militants engaged to prevent them from returning to agitation.