The benefits of the ongoing amnesty programme granted Niger Delta ex-militants by the Federal Government, has been described as an eye-opener to youths of the Niger Delta area. In this interview with the Delta state chairman, Phase 2 ex-militants, Mr Kingsley Muturu, he disclosed that the programme is a plus to the Nigerian government and its people, particularly Niger Deltans. Excerpts:
By Innocent Onoja
Can you briefly tell us about the implementation of the amnesty programme, from its inception to the present moment?
Well, I can say the programme is progressing because there are a lot of success stories to tell, which you media people are aware of. We have had orientation over the struggle; we have had better ways to approach issues regarding the Niger Delta struggle for fair treatment from the government at the centre.
In fact, the amnesty programme has sharpened our sense of reasoning and better orientation on the Nigerian state.
Can you compare the former government and the present one in terms of its implementation?
The former administration which office was chaired by Kingsley Kuku tried its best in carrying out re-orientation and training programmes, as well as payment of stipends to ex-agitators.
Kuku really tried his best with considerable achievement in the execution of the programme, though he might not have satisfied everybody which is a fact, that one cannot satisfy everybody all the time.
And talking about the present management, Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd) is doing his best, most especially in the area of training of youths, and that ongoing efforts will establish the programme to create job opportunities for many of us. We have seen him as somebody who has pains over the state of the Niger Delta in the discharge of his assigned duties.
Talking about the 2016 budget as presented to the National Assembly, how would you react to the amount appropriated for the amnesty programme, which is below the usual amount appropriated previous years?
Well, we have already reacted to that through an Open Letter to the President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, recently. As I said before, President Buhari is known as a man of integrity and that implementing the amnesty programme has to do with integrity on the part of government.
We express the hope that His Excellency the President will see the need to re-visit the amount as appropriated in the budget, because I am not of the opinion that the President has ill-will towards the training programme for ex-agitators of the Niger Delta.
I am neither of the opinion that the amnesty programme will be mishandled under President Buhari’s government.
I would also want to use this opportunity to call on those who have been sending unnecessary text messages to Brig. Gen. Boroh (rtd) over the figure appropriated in the budget to refrain. This is because he is only a servant and is working according to directives; he has no final say on any amount appropriated for the programme.
How do you see the anti-corruption war of the current government?
I am in support of the fight against corruption in this country, which must be holistic.
As an ex-agitator, do you have anything to say about the unfolding drama in the $2.1 billion arms scandal?
If the reports we see on the newspapers and screens are true, then I would say those indicted should be thoroughly and legally probed. Nobody should begin to fight against the government’s efforts to unfold the arms scandal which the former NSA is said to have disclosed. We should allow the government to probe it to the end. Who knows why Boko Haram was able to acquire sophisticated weapons to unleash terror on Nigerian citizens, many of whom had been sent to their early graves? How did they get those weapons which even scared the Nigerian military fighting these insurgents? I urge president Buhari to holistically carry out the arms probe to earn the trust of Nigerians, because there are also allegations that his anti-corruption war is targeted at enemies, perceived enemies and critics, which is not good to his image as a President of all Nigerians. I am in support of the anti-corruption war.