Hundreds of women identified as mothers of beneficiaries of the Federal Government Amnesty Programme yesterday protested the dismissal of 13 ex-militants being trained as pilots by Lufthansa over non-payment of the required fees by the Federal Government.
The aggrieved women from coastal communities in the Niger Delta region during a protest march to the office of ex-militant leaders known as the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI), said President Muhammadu Buhari should be held responsible if there is a resurgence of violence in the Niger Delta region.
According to them they are already feeling the heat as the gathering of disgruntled youths in their communities is causing problems.
One of the protesting women, Madam Ebiere Ankiomete, noted that though President Mohammadu Buhari’s actions so far gives more hope to the people of the region, the delay in appointing a substantive Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Committee to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Finance to pay the Amnesty Training fund is threatening the progamme.
The coordinator of the ex-militant leaders, Pastor Rueben Wilson, appealed for calm and called on President Buhari to rescue the poorly-funded Presidential Amnesty Programme from collapse.
He said Buhari needs to match action with words on his promise during his inaugural speech to strengthen the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
Wilson said ex-militant leaders have been under immense pressure as they have been appealing beneficiaries of the amnesty programme to remain calm.
He said “the passionate appeal comes on the heels of an avalanche of complaints received by the indigent parents of the Amnesty Beneficiaries, home and abroad, that their children and wards are currently experiencing hardship due to lack of funding to the programme.
“Mr President should not lose sight of the issue that brought about the Amnesty Programme. [He should] save it from total collapse. Mr. President, we use this medium to remind you and the good people of Nigeria of the promises to the people of Niger Delta about positive changes. Nigerians have since voted you into power because they need change; but from what we have seen so far we have reasons to doubt how soon, if at all, the change will come.”
“The peace we are enjoying in the Niger Delta area today is because of the Amnesty Program initiated by your predecessor, President Umaru Yar’adua, because he had the interest of the Niger Delta people at heart. You will also recall that as a result of the Amnesty Offer the country went from producing 900 barrels to over 2million barrels of crude oil per day. The parents who are infuriated at the attitude of President Buhari administration of more than one months of assuming power wonder if his words at the inaugural speech of strengthening the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) is just lip service and deceit.”