By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Mungono has said that the Presidential Amnesty Programme was actually set up to look at issues of development and security in the Niger Delta area within three years and not meant to be an open ended programme.
The NSA spoke to State House Correspondents Friday after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja in the company of the new Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, Col Dikkio.
According to him, “This presidential amnesty programme is supposed to be a very serious programme for the federal government. The original intention of the programme was rooted in the fact that the people of the Niger Delta had been suffering adversely as a consequence of so many issues , ecological, security and too many things .
“Bearing in mind the burden the region has been carrying in terms of the natural resources there . So the principal idea for setting up this programme was actually to look at issues of development and security.
“And when this program was set up 11, 12 years ago and I remember very clearly because when the program was initiated I was Chief of Defence intelligence and we thought that sticking to the original timeline in 3 years the programme will end that is the amnesty but in which the agitators would have been fully compensated, trained , they would have acquired all the necessary skills and then become more productive to the people of that region.
“Unfortunately so many things happened . Three years became 11 years and now going to 12, this is because of the vicissitudes and vagaries of our society. A lot of things happen to catapult the whole programme into other issues that originally was not intended.
“The predatory instincts of certain individuals came into the fore and the programme was turned upside down and as a result of this like, the administrator has just said, there was a lot of corruption, waste, mismanagement within this period, N712 billion was wasted basically unaccounted for and this is due to so many issues- corruption being at the fore.
“Now we realized that if the focus of the people who are supposed to drive this programme is to capsize the programme by allowing their own personal interest to come in, then we are all going to be in trouble because the Niger Delta is in trouble and consequently it will extend to the rest of the federation.
“Therefore, I had to take this step to advise Mr. President that the waste cannot go on, this programme is not supposed to be an open ended programme, there is no place on the surface of this earth where programmes that are supposed to be palliatory will continue forever. At the end of the day becoming a big problem and entanglement for the government.
“Therefore we decided to take immediate action by bringing in someone who can take a deep look at these programme what resulted to it being flawed, person with vast experience and we all know the experience of Col Dikkio in this type of issue.
“Throughout his stay in the military he has been involved in a lot of programme like that , he has served in places like Sierra Leone and Liberia , Chad etc .The idea is to bring someone with strength of character, sense of purpose, someone who is able to deal with this from the short, mid to long term. Someone who is not going to be pushed around, someone that will not succumb to socio cultural political issues.
“Someone to clean out the stable and stabilize the region for the people of the Niger Delta region and I must also add that he has been receiving a lot of cooperation, help from certain ministry, like ministry of transportation, environment and of course as time goes on other people will key in.
“So basically the endemic corruption that scuttle this programme and frustrated the people of the Niger Delta is going to be addressed as soon as possible”, Mungono concluded.