Yenagoa—The president of the National Association of Presidential Amnesty Students Worldwide (NAPASW), Mr. Patrick Ipidei, has attributed the incessant protests and blocking of roads by ex-agitators to misinformation allegedly sponsored by mischief makers.
In an interview with our reporter, he said most times, the former warlords
take to the streets without confirming from the amnesty office the information at their disposal and their actions in the long run become counterproductive.
Ipidei, a 400-level student of Novena University, Delta State under the sponsorship of the Presidential Amnesty Program (PAP), therefore appealed to ex-agitators to always explore all available channels before embarking on any form of protest or demonstration.
He said that “first of all, some of us are not properly informed before we take such actions. Secondly, communication is key in every circle. People are always seen protesting at the East-West road because they feel if the road is blocked they will get immediate attention regarding the challenges they’re facing.
“And you see most times when the road is blocked some of their demands are met as soon as possible. But if you ask me I don’t think that is the best way.
“If there’s a proper communication channel, then I don’t think there will be a need to go blocking that critical road.
“With a more effective communication channel, you will not see people going to block the road protesting in Abuja. I think Gen. Barry Ndiomu is really trying in that aspect that is why protests are not frequent compared to other regimes.”
He thanked the federal government for the scholarship which has hugely impacted him and others, pointing out that the educational component of the PAP has reduced youth restiveness in the region.
Ipidei reckoned that a lot of Niger Delta youths have become self-reliant due to the various skills they’ve acquired through the amnesty program.
When asked if the amnesty program has served its purpose, Ipidei said “the program has three phases: disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration, of which two phases have been concluded.
“The program captured about 30,000 ex-agitators and from what we have gathered less than 50% have been reintegrated since its inception.
“So it is safe to say that the program has not totally served its purpose. But that doesn’t mean it has not recorded success.
He further said “there’s more to be achieved in the program. Today I am happy the program is headed by a technocrat in the person of Major General Barry Ndiomu (rtd) who is currently employing very viable models to improve the program.
“I believe the incoming administration at the center would want to consolidate the program and strengthen it more now that it is in the hands of a capable personality from the region.
“So for me, that fear of scrapping the program is a no-no. What the incoming administration should do is to see that the ongoing reintegration process is done to the fullest.
“The next government should sustain the program and retain the current Interim Administrator and make him a substantive head because within the six months that Ndiomu has stayed, he has initiated good policies and programs and also demonstrated that he’s capable of revamping the program for good.”
Ipidei urged PAP delegates and stakeholders to join hands with Ndiomu in remodelling the amnesty program to meet its objectives.
“This program is our program so we should manage and cherish it. The west first benefited from this kind of opportunity when cocoa was the mainstay of our nation’s economy.
“So now that we have PAP due to age-long exploitation and underdevelopment of our region, I think it’s time we realize our common mistakes and move with unity of purpose.
“There are rumours of scrapping the program mainly because of the issue of protests and petitions written against the office, so let’s retrace our steps and join hands to sustain the program,” he concluded.