Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Niger Delta: Is amnesty really working?

Daily Independent
27 June 2011

Niger Delta: Is amnesty really working?

Ikechukwu Amaechi
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chief Executive of the Post-Amnesty Programme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, is a very lucky person. He is doing a job that has made him very powerful simply because he now controls all the bad boys in the region. Every politician from the Niger Delta knows that is a huge political capital. He is also in-charge of a multi-billion naira scam which the amnesty programme has become.

Kuku believes the programme is working and he is indubitably very happy with it. Speaking in Abuja penultimate Monday at an orientation ceremony for 36 youths admitted into the Galilee International Management Institute, Israel, for a three-month course in agriculture, he said the fact that other armed groups in the country are seeking amnesty as one of the conditions for laying down their arms proves the success of the programme. “If youths in Gombe, Borno, Abia, Arugbo, my own community in Ondo State, rise up today to say they want amnesty, first it shows that amnesty programme is working.”

But he quickly reminded such other groups that amnesty is Niger Delta specific. “It is a special programme meant to address a special problem that has been done ... Anywhere in this country, even if today youths in my town, Arugbo, rise up to say they want amnesty they are no longer going to be accepted because it was a special programme.”

But is the amnesty door really shut in the Niger Delta? Kuku knows he is being economical with the truth. He knows that amnesty has become an open-ended game. Presently, there are over 26,ooo beneficiaries, who call themselves ex-militants. If there were 26,000 fighters in the creeks, they would have overrun not only the region, but the entire country. But more names are being added to the ever-growing list every day. Why? The more the beneficiaries, the more funds there will be for the big boys.

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