The Niger Delta Frontier Movement (NDFM) has urged the federal government, led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to select a new Chairman for the Presidential Amnesty Programme and a Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs from a different ethnic group. The NDFM emphasizes the importance of inclusiveness and the need to foster a sense of belonging among all ethnic nationalities in the region, stating that the program should not be exclusively controlled by a single tribe.
During a well-attended meeting of key stakeholders from the region, headed by Goodluck Opia, the group called on the President to consider appointing a Special Adviser from the Urhobo ethnic group. Opia argues that the Urhobo nation represents the largest cohesive entity in the region and deserves such an appointment, especially in this era of Renewed Hope, which signifies a fresh start for the program.
Opia highlights the historical trend of biased appointments to this office and emphasizes that the region belongs to everyone. He stresses that no evidence anywhere in the world supports the claim that any tribe in the region possesses more oil and gas resources than Urhoboland. Furthermore, the Movement asserts that among the various ethnic groups in the region, the Urhobo nation has demonstrated the highest commitment to peace and tranquility.
Opia calls upon the National Security Adviser to the President, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and the Secretary to the Federal Government, George Akume, who oversees the appointment process, to avoid favoritism in the selection of the next Chairman for the Presidential Amnesty Programme. He urges them to depart from past practices where individuals were recommended without proper evaluation, often motivated by personal gain. Opia emphasizes the need for someone with a profound understanding of the region, particularly its politics, to assume the role.
“Right from the beginning of the Programme,” the group noted, “The FG has deliberately ignored and denied other ethnic nations the right to manage the affairs of the office, saying retired military officers, most of whom were appointed in the past, don’t even know the beneficiaries of the programme let alone be in touch with the realities on the ground and this he said has hampered the would-have-been success of the intervention agency.”
“Appointments of the Amnesty boss in the past,” Opia stated, “negates the spirit and soul of the founding fathers of the programme,” maintaining, “At inception, the office was led by non retired military personnel, who laid a good foundation for the development and growth of the programme but subsequent appointments ran in contrary to the good of the programme.”
“In the region, there are Ndokwa, Calabar, Akwa Ibom, Itsekiri, and other nationalities, who have not been considered fit and proper for appointment into the office, but deliberately, the government has sustained lop-sidedness in its choice of persons appointed to the office as he called on the President to look elsewhere this time around.
“The programme,” the Movement stated, “Was intended to intervene in the development and growth of the people and the region but regretted that the issues that necessitated the establishment of the agency are still very much present in the region and that the only way to achieve result is for the government to look elsewhere by appointing an ex-militant leader from other tribes especially from Urhoboland to man that office arguing that, only that can guarantee success and bring succour to the people.”
“The training of ex-militants, youths, and persons by the Amnesty office, he noted, have been such that favors only one tribe while others are scantily included saying; the Renewed Hope mantra of the present administration shouldn’t be in the papers alone without commensurate actions intended to improve the lives of the people and the environment in action.
While expressing his dissatisfaction with the management of the program over the years, he assigned a below-average score to their performance. He called upon the government to adopt a fresh approach aimed at ensuring the satisfaction of the people while also emphasizing the need to eliminate any ethnic imbalance in selecting the program’s leaders.