Niger Delta

Niger Delta Activist Advocates Interim Management Committee For Amnesty Programme

In an online interview, the Spokesperson of the Niger Delta group, Joint Revolutionary Council, Cynthia Whyte advocated for the setting up of an NDDC-styled interim management committee to sanitize and organize a forensic audit of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

According to Cynthia Whyte, the Amnesty programme should be dismembered and collapsed to operate under the office of the GMD of NNPC and the Chief of Staff to the President.

Below is the full text of the interview:

Media Question: The Joint Revolutionary Council has been pretty quiet in the past few years. Are you not concerned about the state of affairs of the Niger Delta, and the fact that not much has happened in the Niger Delta in the past 5 years especially with the seeming complete abandonment of the East-West Road, the Niger Delta Development Commission & The Presidential Amnesty Programme.

The Niger Delta is a failed region. With a critical mass of failed political leaders who have all sold their souls for money, privilege and power.

Governors of Niger Delta states have become Emperors unto themselves, mismanaging about $500 million dollars every year. Many times on projects which do not stand the test of time. And for which many receive handsome kickbacks from their favored contractors.

There is a total ZERO check and balance on the activities of these Governors.

Look at the various states of the Niger Delta today, which of them has a Governor that can match the passion of Professor Babagana Zulum of Borno State?

Go to the villages of of the Niger Delta and see if you will see functional state projects like Health care centers and properly funded schools? Or even vocational centers where local people can build and acquire skills?

A lot has gone wrong and while we try hard as we can to stay strong, we believe push will come to shove in good time.

You see, too much talking has never been the solution to the challenges of the Niger Delta. A lot is quietly being done to overhaul and re-energize the struggle for the liberation and emancipation of the Niger Delta. When the time comes, and when push comes to shove, what will be, will be.

We talked and complained, and then NDDC was created – and then politicians (who were sitting on the fence while we talked and shouted) were called upon to run and then destroy it, making themselves, their cronies and their friends billionaires in the process.

We agitated and even took up arms against the Nigerian State, the Presidential Amnesty Programme was created, and then the same thing all over again.

People who sat on the fence when we agitated and went up in arms against the Nigerian state have yet again been called to manage programmes that we demanded for.

Now we are saying that all is not well with all that was created to fix the challenges of the people of the Niger Delta.

The Joint Revolutionary Council was formed to unify certain factions of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and certain other key agitating units who all have played critical roles since 2005 with the arrest and detention of Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari.

A lot has changed and the dynamics of the agitation for the liberation and emancipation of the Niger Delta has also changed.

Every interventionist programme of the Federal Government thus far has failed in the Niger Delta.

The Obasanjo conceived Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has failed.

The Yar’Adua conceived Presidential Amnesty Programme has also failed.

What the Buhari government failed to do when it came into office in 2015 was to inaugurate an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to oversee the usefulness and continuity of both the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).

Instead, it went ahead to make appointments and inaugurated leadership for both agencies and parastatals. We have all seen the end result.

The Interim Management Committee overseeing the Niger Delta Development Commission is on the verge of releasing a forensic report on the activities and operations of NDDC in the past few years. The report is damning. The scale of fraud, mismanagement and embezzlement is unbelievable.

Nobody would have ever imagined that that measure of sleaze and malfeasance could ever have been possible under Buhari’s watch.

Same thing goes for the Presidential Amnesty Programme where a retired Brigadier General was appointed and then relieved of his appointment about 2/3 years later in early 2018.

It took several complaints and petitions from concerned Niger Deltans before the Presidency could put pressure on the National Security Adviser to relieve General Boroh of his appointment.

One glaring challenge with those who recommend administrators of the Presidential Amnesty Programme is that you cannot put round pegs in square holes or square pegs in round holes.

While it is imperative to appoint non-career politicians into these positions, people who do not have an understanding of the Niger Delta struggle should never be given an opportunity to run the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

That explains why we saw the mountains and degrees of petitions that mounted against the former Coordinator who was a Retired General of the Nigerian Army. And that also explains why we are seeing the current surge of petition against the current Coordinator, a Professor drafted from some Diplomacy Institute in Lagos.

They are non-career politicians and they all share one thing in common, they were both drafted by the National Security Adviser, General Monguno, the National Security Adviser. Largely because they hail from the Niger Delta!

But the fact is they do not understand the Niger Delta, its struggles and its agitation will continue to be a burning challenge.

Monguno will not be National Security Adviser if he did not understand Buhari and whatever Buhari represents.

Alhaji Abba Kyari will not be Chief of Staff to the President if he did not have a deep understanding of who Buhari is.

You cannot manage or coordinate what you do not understand.

Crude oil production in the Niger Delta has been on a steady and quiet drop for the past two years.

People are not carrying guns and taking hostages anymore. Young men have left all that. They are now sabotaging oil pipelines with a little more finesse and refining petroleum products for themselves.

With very low initial investments, the technology and manpower for such enterprise can quickly be deployed.

Thanks to the efforts of these young men, petroleum products such as petrol and diesel are no longer scarce commodities in local communities in the Niger Delta.

Hopefully, the technology available will continue to improve so that there will be less damage to the environment and increased wealth for our people.

We cannot continue to rest our destinies on a failed Amnesty Programme and a callous and confused development agency that has become hotbeds for satanic corruption and aggrandizement.

Militancy in the Niger Delta & Violence in the Creeks

Why would anyone want to be a gun carrying militant when you can start a Creek-side refinery and be a millionaire or billionaire in a matter of months?

Our people have become wiser. Why arm yourselves and engage the Nigerian military needlessly when all you need to do is to look for isolated but active crude oil pipelines, intercept the crude oil, refine and sell to ready and available buyers?

Way Forward?

The appointment of an Interim Management Committee for the Niger Delta Development Commission is a step in the right direction. Things do not need to continue the way it has been.

All of a sudden, anybody who is appointed into the Board of the Commission suddenly becomes a billionaire and suddenly seeks to own a house everywhere around the world.

That is the story of NDDC today. A house of uncommon sleaze.

It may be necessary to adopt the same approach for the Presidential Amnesty Programme which has long lost focus, bearing and direction.

Those who are running the programme do not have true knowledge of the number of militants who accepted amnesty and enrolled in the amnesty programme.

More importantly, they do not seem to be willing to learn what the real issues are.

Much of what you see being bandied around is a total fraud.

An entirely new framework must be adopted for managing the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

The Amnesty programme should be dismembered and collapsed to operate under the office of the GMD of NNPC and the Chief of Staff to the President.

That way, it’s mandate can be better secured and protected from politicians (and their cronies) and kept under watchful eyes of the Presidency in such a manner that oil bearing and oil producing communities should and must be rewarded for their continued patience with the Nigerian state.

Painfully, almost all the politicians who surround General Buhari today are all after political appointments and political largesse.

They crave more for appointments than to serve and cater to the wishes and aspirations of the people of the Niger Delta, whose mandate they claim to represent.

We must therefore commend those who stood up for the cleansing and overhaul of the NDDC.

A cleansed NDDC will do our people a lot of good.

Hopefully, we will begin to hear discussions about the East West Road which has been abandoned for about 5 years now.

It is unfortunate that such an artery has been so neglected when some of these politicians around Buhari were the loudest on the state of these roads when they fell out against Jonathan.

Thank you.

Cynthia Whyte

Spokesperson, Joint Revolutionary Council

February 11, 2020