Yenagoa—Excel Yerindideke Toriomo, Spokesman of the Niger Delta Ex-Agitators Leaders, a group of Phase 1 ex-freedom fighters, has said the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) does not exist to meet the needs of political stakeholders or members.
He stressed that the PAP was established to properly rehabilitate, empower and reintegrate ex-freedom fighters from the oil-rich region, hence a call to empower members of any political party is unconstitutional, divisive and retrogressive.
Toriomo’s assertion comes on the heels of a recent statement issued by Comr. Preye Bagou, publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, calling for the immediate sack of the PAP boss, Major General Barry Ndiomu (rtd).
The APC stalwart described Ndiomu’s appointment as a “wasted opportunity,” alleging delay in payment of ex-agitators stipends and appointment of members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) among other allegations.
But Toriomo, in a statement sent to Mangrovepen.ng, maintained that Bagou spoke out of ignorance, pointing out that “amnesty office is not where they bake, cut and share political cakes as he is making it seem.”
He reiterated that Ndiomu, whom he described as a father to all delegates and stakeholders, is administering the PAP office without attaching political sentiments.
According to him, “PAP has never been and will never be a political party. It is not an office meant to compensate APC, PDP or any other political party.
“Rather, the Amnesty programme is an intervention agency established to properly rehabilitate, empower and reintegrate Niger Delta youths that were in the armed struggle during the dark days of the region.
“To the best of my knowledge, General Ndiomu has been diligently piloting the amnesty office like a detribalized, apolitical administrator, despite some challenges we are facing.
“Bagou who is not a PAP delegate should make his findings well before issuing some statements regarding the office.
“He should know that Ndiomu is a father to all PAP delegates and stakeholders and works with competent people who have different political orientations that remain personal to them.”
He said ex-agitators and not politicians should be speaking for or against any PAP administration because the programme exists for those who engaged in the armed struggle.
Toriomo added that Ndiomu cannot be removed based on party issues, but only on how he treats ex-agitators.
“Politicians should steer clear from PAP affairs. The office exists to cater for ex-freedom fighters and not to settle political followers and we are the ones to say if an amnesty boss is doing well or not.
“It is vexatious for a non-PAP delegate to be advising the incoming administration to replace General Ndiomu with a so-called party man because he also wants to eat where ex-militants are eating,” the Phase 1 ex-agitator stated.
He however advised Ndiomu to pay the few contractors owed as well as offset the backlog of stipends owed to delegates affected by the ongoing verification exercise.