The Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Hon. Kingsley Kuku, has reassured beneficiaries of the programme that the Muhammadu Buhari administration, expected to commence from May 29, 2015 will not scrap the PAP because of its impact in ensuring peace and stability in the Niger Delta.
In a press release by the Head, Media and Communications, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, Kuku gave the assurance in London yesterday during a meeting with over 600 undergraduate and post-graduate beneficiaries of the Special Scholarship Scheme in the United Kingdom, UK, in continuation of his valedictory visit to students in offshore institutions.
Also at the meeting, was the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Abdul Ningi, who said the amnesty programme was not only critical to the economic survival of Nigeria but that it is also a moral rather than a political programme that cannot be wished away by the government irrespective of whichever party was in power.
Insisting that the programme proved doubters wrong as it surpassed the expectation of those who did not give it any chance of success, the presidential aide said it is the basic stimulant for the peace and stability of the oil-producing region.
“Don’t be scared. The amnesty programme will be sustained by the APC government. I have received assurance from key members of the party that Buhari won’t tamper with the amnesty programme.
“The amnesty programme is one of the major reasons for the reduction of criminality, kidnapping, oil bunkering and other vices in the Niger Delta. It is the basic stimulant for peace and stability in the region. Buhari won’t take us back to that era of insecurity in the region. I’m sure he wants peace for the entire country”, Kuku assured the beneficiaries.
Explaining why the special scholarship scheme was introduced, he said the beneficiaries were not former agitators or ex-militants as they were from communities that were negatively affected by the armed agitation in the region.
“The global DDR model that we adopted enabled us to train persons from communities that were negatively affected by the armed conflict in the region even though they did not bear arms. These are not former militants and so should not be tagged as such”, he said.
The PAP chairman lamented that since February 2014, the monthly rather than the quarterly release of funds had greatly hampered the operations of the office as it had resulted in delayed stipends, in-training allowances and payment of tuitions of the students
He however assured that before he leaves office on May 29, the tuition of all students in the offshore universities will be paid like that of their colleagues in the onshore universities and that their in-training allowance and accommodation for April and May will also be paid.
While paying glowing tributes to Mr. Jonathan, the presidential adviser said the outgoing president has laid the foundation for the growth and economic development of Nigeria.
He said President Jonathan had done his best for the country as he refused to use the power at his disposal to interfere with the electoral process and even the eventual emergence of Buhari as the President-elect.
“Jonathan gave peace to Nigeria and I prefer to share in the glory of him preventing crisis in our country. You should be proud of your country because of the exceptional statesmanship of President Jonathan in conceding defeat. Today, he has received global acclaim for that singular act”, he said.
In his remarks, the deputy senate leader disclosed why he is passionate about the amnesty programme, saying it is an initiative that is working and visible for all to see.
“It is a programme that is inculcated in the minds of the people and not one that any government can toy with. In fact, you have to explain to the people why you have to discontinue a programme that is working and everyone can see it. No government under whatever guise can do away with the amnesty programme”, Senator Ningi said.
He described Kuku as a unique and detribalized person that all Nigerians should be proud of because of what he has achieved for the country through the amnesty programme.