Ijaw youths, under the aegis of Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, have begged the Federal Government to increase funding for the office of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
The youth’s group said the Coordinator of the Amnesty office, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh (retd.), had demonstrated commitment to drive the programme and achieve its objectives in the Niger Delta.
The group expressed optimism that with Boroh on the saddle, the amnesty office would remain the best avenue to reach the region and minimise violent agitations pervading the area.
The IYC hailed Boroh’s recent agreements with an Israeli company and the Ministry of Agriculture to engage ex-agitators in agricultural training at the Natural Bio-Resources Centre, Odi, in Kolokuma/Opokuma area of the state.
A factional President of the group, Mr. Elvis Donkemezuo, who spoke in Yenagoa, on Saturday, said the recognition of Odi centre, abandoned since its establishment by the Amnesty boss, underscored his interest in transforming the region.
Donkemezuo said, “We are thrilled with the report that the Amnesty office entered into partnership with an Israeli team, the Ministry of Agriculture to train ex-agitators on specific areas of agriculture at the Natural Bio-Resources Centre, Odi.
“Ijaw youths are happy that Boroh is thinking in this direction. For him to have remembered to harness the potential of the abandoned centre shows his commitment to the Niger Delta project.
“This is what we have been asking for. Training like this should be domiciled in the region. Nobody has deemed it fit to tap the resources in this Odi facility. But today, Boroh is thinking in that direction.”
He asked the youths to remain calm and peaceful to enable the new leadership at the centre to attract development to the Niger Delta.
Donkemezuo, who said agriculture remained one of the best approaches to diversification, added that countries such as Malaysia and Brazil rely heavily on bio-ethanol for their energy creation.
Donkemezuo, who said the Niger Delta had a large population of good people, appealed to Nigerians not to dismiss the region as a militant enclave because of the activities of a few bad eggs.
To accentuate his belief that the region is blessed with intellectuals, he rationalised that recently, youths from the region under amnesty programme graduated with first-class degrees from the United Kingdom.
“In every community around the world, there are bad eggs but the good ones are more in number than the bad ones. We call on the Federal Government to look inwardly and ensure that the amnesty office is properly funded.
“We understand that our children and youths studying around the world under the amnesty programme are facing funding challenges. But we have seen that the amnesty office is committed in ensuring that the programme is sustained.
“So, the government should ensure that the amnesty office is given all the needed support. They should also see the amnesty office as a scheme to renegotiate with the Niger Delta people and to renegotiate the structure of this country.”