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NEWSFEATURE | Retooling Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) through workable partnership, by Linus Aleke

Linus Aleke

By LINUS ALEKE

It was a Japanese martial artist and founder of the martial art of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, who said that “to injure an opponent is to injure yourself; to control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace.”

However, the federal government’s decision to establish the Presidential Amnesty Programme to tackle the concerns of Niger Delta agitators were not borne out of weakness but eternal wisdom domiciled in the above quote.

Available data shows that over 70 percent of total revenue accruing to governments in Nigeria is from crude oil and 90 percent of this revenue source is located in the Niger Delta region, which of course is within the Nigerian territorial boundaries.

As developmental experts would say, development cannot thrive in crisis or violence-prone environment.

It was, however, on the premise of the above established truth and not the fact that the federal government could not use the kinetic approach to bring the agitators to their knees, that the federal  government logically reasoned that an attempt to travel that route (using the kinetic approach) would amount to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

It was on the strength of this logic, nonetheless, that the Japanese marshal art expert quoted in the opening paragraph theorized that to injure an opponent is to injure yourself, but to control aggression without inflicting injury is the art of peace.

This control of aggression by the federal government and the selfless cooperation by agitators in the region has, without doubt, brought about the needed peace that is very essential for sustainable development of the region.

Meanwhile, to assert that maximum peace has been achieved in the region is to tell naked lies to oneself and others.

Although minimal peace has been achieved in the region, the issue of oil theft is still denying the federation the needed resources to fund sustainable development across the country, including the Niger Delta Area.

Just last week, the military hierarchy said troops of Operation Delta Safe in the conduct of Operation Octopus Grip discovered and destroyed 44 illegal refining sites, in the creeks of Niger Delta within 14 days.

Director Defence Media Operations, Major General Musa Danmadami made this disclosure while briefing the press in Abuja.

He further disclosed that the troops also uncovered and destroyed 32 wooden boats, 73 storage tanks, 129 cooking ovens and 40 dugout pits.

Troops he added, equally recovered 512,000 litres of stolen crude oil, 114,500 litres of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil, 1,000 Premium Motor Spirit.

Other items according to him, included 40 vehicles, 3 motorcycles, 3 generators as well as 5 pumping machines.

General Danmadami added that troops also arrested 29 criminal elements and recovered 104 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition.

Also, the air component of Operation Delta Safe conducted a series of air mission operation within the joint operation area of the zone.

According to him, on 7 November 2022, the air component conducted air interdiction operation at Abacheke, an identified illegal refining site where significant human activities were confirmed.

He said the target was engaged and destroyed, while the air strike led to an inferno that lasted for almost 24hrs.

He was, however, silent on the level of air pollution orchestrated by the inferno within the 24-hour time frame.

Meanwhile, experts observe that such an act by the military is against the federal government’s effort at combating climate change.

This is even as the issue of Ogoni clean up is still unattended to.

However, those familiar with the issues in Niger Delta have linked the spike in oil theft in the creeks of  the region to the ex-agitators who were not captured in the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

A source who did not want his name in print said: “These ex-agitators need to be catered for to avoid a decent into the past. An idle man is a devil’s workshop. It is not as if these ex-agitators are the principal oil thieves, but those high and mighty who are stealing our national wealth in collaboration with foreigners are recruiting these ex-agitators into their criminal enterprise. But do you blame them? They can not be in the river and soap will enter their eyes. While I am not making excuses for them or justifying criminalities, government needs to step up its programme aimed at providing skills for this army of ex-agitators to enable  them foot their bills. If they are gainfully engaged, the oil thieves will automatically run out of business as they will run out of the critical manpower needed to run their criminal enterprise.”

It is against the foregoing background that the new administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) is retooling the programme through partnership.

Announcing this new move, the Acting Head of Information of PAP, Mr. Alaenetonwa Lawson, in a statement last Friday, said PAP is partnering with  the Nigerian Navy (NN) to build the productive capacities of ex-agitators as part of effort to restore lasting peace and develop the Niger Delta areas.

The Interim Administrator of PAP, Major General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (Rtd), made this disclosure while receiving the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo in his office in Abuja.

Lawson disclosed that the Chief of Naval Engineering, Rear Admiral Sdel Ladan, led the visiting delegation on behalf of the CNS.

Represented at the visit by the Head of Reintegration, Mr. Wilfred Musa, the Interim Administrator lauded the world-class facility of the Naval Engineering College.

While applauding the CNS and his team for their visit, Major General Ndiomu (Rtd), assured them of PAP’s readiness to explore a beneficial working relationship as well as continued partnership, which PAP would fully leverage to train its delegates.

“We’ll be very happy to explore ways and means to bring this collaboration to reality,” he said. “I want to believe that amongst other things, this is the highest level of this meeting. I was amazed by the garment making unit of the school. It is so elaborate. We have run dozens of trainings in the past but we have never had the opportunity to work with any of the academies that has the amount of infrastructure and the layout of what we saw at the naval engineering school.

“They make the garment there and they brand them. They stitch and they package. What that tells us is that we can have our delegates acquire that skill and also understand what it means to specialize and they will have a good appreciation of the value chain.”

He said an end-to-end of it is that participants can decide to major as monograming expert or as the one who is branding while another is making the garment.

Observing that it is one man to a machine, the Amnesty boss said those who really want to acquire say tailoring skill have no excuse not to do so as the relevant equipment for their skill acquisition are in place.

He further applauded the CNS and his team for the visit and willingness to work with PAP in moving its mandate to the next level.

The Chief of Naval Staff said the visit was a reciprocal one made to consolidate and deepen the growing partnership with the Naval Engineering College.

The statement recalled that PAP leadership had earlier visited to inspect the school facility with the aim of training delegates there.

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