Asari Dokubo says N74billion is not enough for amnesty programme
The former President of the Ijaw Youth Council and Leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, has insisted that the N74 billion budgeted for the rehabilitation and retraining of the Niger Delta ex-militants in the 2012 budget was not enough.
Dokubo-Asari in a statement on Monday, demanded that a 10-day oil production proceeds should be allocated to the programme, since the country’s oil production had risen to 2.6 million barrels per day, as against 680, 000 before the amnesty programme was instituted.
According to him, the increase in the crude oil production is part of the gains of the amnesty programme. “With all these gains, one expects that the operators of the amnesty project should have been encouraged and applauded. Instead, what we see is rebuke, recrimination and an attempt to scuttle the project by those who contribute next to nothing in the upkeep and maintenance of the Nigerian state but are now calling for a probe into the amnesty project” he stated.
The former militant leader noted that the current $74billion budgeted for the amnesty amounts to just two days of oil production “It is important to state that going by the 2012 budget passed by the National Assembly, the amnesty project budget is about N74billion annually. Which means that amnesty project budget for a year is far less than two days oil production.”
He argued that the resources allocated for the amnesty is inadequate and suggested that “10 days oil production proceeds, after removing cost of product and percentage proceeds due to joint ventures partners, should be allocated to the training and education of the people of the oil-bearing communities through the amnesty project.”
The ex-militant also alleged that a company owned by an ally of the late Head of state, General Sani Abacha produces 400, 000 barrels of oil per day, claiming that the company makes N2.3bn annually, despite the death of the owner.
“If a dead individual is raking N2.3billion in 365 days, why should N74billion be allocated to the amnesty project from resources gotten from underneath their soil?” he asked.
“This is how the Nigerian state is been run and managed at the expense of the vast majority of her people. While some people pretend to be blind to these painful realities, some of us will not join the bandwagon of the blind men, these inequity, injustice and blatant insensitivity must be checked now if we are to have a stable polity” he added.
The NDPVF leader added, “Most people will be wondering why I have chosen to speak in favour of the amnesty project, even though I hate the tag amnesty, I know that the managers of the project have managed it so well to the benefit of the recipients.
Asari also called for further development of the amnesty programme stating that “at present, most people who hitherto, would have been committing crimes in the creeks are now meaningfully engaged, learning and acquiring skills in various universities, polytechnics and technical institutions all over the world. As it is said, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop; the people managing the amnesty project have used the project to rehabilitate and read admit the ex-militants who lived the life of criminality into civil society.”
He also called for the amnesty tag be dropped from the programme “if this project is expanded and the amnesty tag is dropped, the belief by most of us that we are been criminalized for standing up for our right will be removed and more people will benefit from the project.”