Warri—A coalition of civil society groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta region has said the open letter reportedly written by some ex-agitators to incoming President Ahmed Bola Tinubu was very “misplaced, fallacious and regrettable.”
Consisting of the Niger Delta Solidarity Forum, Niger Delta Progressive Front and Coalition of Niger Delta Youth Movement, the coalition in a joint statement in Warri, the Delta state capital, insisted that the open letter was devoid of truth and could be inciting.
According to them, the authors decided to supplant truth with lies, adding that “such must not be allowed to flourish in the minds of the people, lest they believe the concocted lies”.
It is worrisome that the writers of the open letter admitted that there was a case of multiple accounts being operated by a single individual detected by the forensic exercise conducted by the Barry Ndiomu-led Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“What is more worrisome is that the group admitted to such fraud with either a weak defence in a shameful manner.
“What would have been the fate of those who are legitimately entitled to a N65,000 monthly stipend when certain people decide to use various means to divert multiple people’s entitlement?
“Again, what is more worrisome is that these unscrupulous people have been benefitting illegally from other people’s proceeds before the current administration detected and stopped it.
“Though the Amnesty Programme was designed to redeem ex-agitators from the shackles of violence, destruction, and civil unrest, the Ndiomu leadership has continued to prioritize the interest of these people, even when he inherited backlogs of unpaid stipends from previous administrators, he never gave excuse in discharging his duty,” the coalition stated.
Continuing, the coalition said “since he (Ndiomu) assumed office, he has paid the entitlement of legitimate ex-agitators every month and continued to even encourage them to get contemporary skills that can help them survive the current economic realities in the country.
“His brilliance has made it possible to conceive a Cooperative Scheme that can serve as a way of supporting them with soft loans. He did not only stop there, Ndiomu is rallying support from agencies and philanthropists to contribute towards the success of all his initiatives, for the overall good of the ex-agitators.
“We also note his efforts at enlisting some of our qualified men into the Nigeria Military and Para-Military, having met with the leadership of these security architectures.
“If we are to defeat corruption, one must take time to praise General Ndiomu, for putting the interest of legitimate beneficiaries at heart rather than supporting crimes under the guise of fraudulent payment.
“We have gotten to a stage in our lives where we need to start eschewing every form of dishonesty and acts that are counter-productive to the Niger Delta region.
“If we are very vocal on manners in which certain politicians have amassed wealth for themselves at the detriment of the people, we then need to serve as a right example.”
A spokesman for the coalition, Comrade Doso Famous Bunawari further asserted that Ndiomu’s effort to bring sanity to the payroll of ex-agitators should be hailed by all right-thinking persons.
In his words: “One of the greatest decisions the Interim administrator has made is sanitizing the scheme to allow qualified people access to their funds. Coming from an era where illegality is the order of the day we are now at the phase where we can now begin to have a strong belief in public institutions.
“The public needs to disregard those spurious lies because they are capable of harming our collective progress. Those who are legitimately qualified for the monthly stipend have continued to show appreciation to the Interim Administrator for the timely payment.
“We associate with the People’s General, an administrator par excellence, and agree with his efforts at sanitizing the system. It is only when we have a sanitized system that the money can go around to everyone qualified.”
The spokesman of the coalition called on Tinubu to retain an upright man like Ndiomu to continue his good work in the amnesty office.