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Ignore calls to scrap amnesty programme, Ijaw youths tell Tinubu

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The Ijaw Youths Network (IYN) has appealed to President Bola Tinubu to disregard calls from certain stakeholders advocating for the termination of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).

In a statement signed by its president, Frank Ebikabo, and secretary, Federal Ebiaridor, the IYN described the critics as ethnic chauvinists aiming to distract the new PAP leadership.

The IYN’s response was prompted by comments by one Frank Tietie, who alleged on national television that the PAP was corrupt and ineffective despite the substantial financial investment by the federal government.

The group condemned Tietie’s claims, particularly his assertion that a single ethnic group monopolises the PAP, noting that the Niger Delta needs unity and development efforts rather than divisive ethnic sentiments targeting a functional agency.

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“While it is not our intention to bring the odious inter-ethnic wrangling in the Niger Delta to the fore at this point, we find it obligatory to condemn the reprehensible act of hiding under the toga of ethnicity to attack the PAP,” the statement reads.

“What the Niger Delta and indeed the country need at this point is unity and concerted efforts for development. As a region, we have suffered too much and cannot afford these antics that have held us down.

“We listened to the desperate call by one Mr. Frank Tietie, a supposed Niger Delta activist who called for the scrapping of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. Tietie told his interviewers that the Presidential Amnesty Programme has failed and must be discontinued, citing corruption in the agency.

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“Even more regrettable was the fact that the supposed Niger Delta activist claimed only a set of ethnic nationalities had laid claims to the Presidential Amnesty Office. This is untrue and misleading.

“While we do not want to jump to accuse anybody of selective amnesia, we cannot forget in a hurry that, at the peak of the armed struggle before the proclamation of the Presidential Amnesty in 2009, those calling for the scrapping of the program tagged the ex-agitators and their Ijaw ethnic nationality as troublemakers.

“However, Nigerians from outside the region appreciated the fact that there was underdevelopment, pain, agony, and frustration, which triggered deep resentments in the oil-producing areas.”

The IYN stressed that the PAP has “significantly” contributed to maintaining peace in the Niger Delta through “its well-conceived programmes”.

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The group highlighted the success of many ex-agitators and Niger Delta citizens who were trained and doing well in various sectors such as air traffic control, aircraft maintenance, underwater welding, and other high-skill professions.

The group further noted that numerous beneficiaries of the PAP are thriving in trades like fashion design, salon services, fish farming, baking, rice production, hairdressing, and construction materials.

 

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