On Sunday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, former members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), appealed to the President, Muhammadu Buhari to urgently intervene in the Amnesty programme. They made their concerns known in a communiqué issued by former militant leaders after their meeting in Yenagoa. The communiqué which was signed by Mr Reuben Clifford, spokesperson of the group, expressed their worry over unpaid stipends and allowances of Amnesty programme beneficiaries, security challenges in the country and state of the economy.
It reads, “We are inundated with calls from home and aboard of our members who are Amnesty beneficiaries, passing through various harrowing experiences. Some at Igbinedion University are being barred to write their final year examinations since they could not pay their fees, while some in Jordan, schooling have been evicted from their homes and now living on handouts from friends.
“We urge the president to authorise the disbursement of fund to offset allowances of Amnesty beneficiaries because this situation is worsening and worrisome,” the communiqué further read.
The ex-militants, who gathered under the umbrella of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI), further condemned the spate of attacks in Plateau, Kano, Kaduna and Borno states. “We want the present administration to wield its might by keeping to its word that ‘Boko Haram will soon know our collective will power’ by engaging various stakeholders to put an end to this callous, ruthless and senseless killing.”
Inasmuch as I admire the seeming sincerity of purpose and statemanship shown by the erstwhile terrorist group in Nigeria, I have certain reservations which I hope I can proper transcribe unto this piece.
I recall during the time when Late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua was President of our dearly beloved nation Nigeria, how he fought to stem the tides of kidnapping and harassment brought about by the above mentioned group. It was one of the events in our history that led the US Government to insist that our nation would split by 2015. That prophecy has not been fulfilled till date. We can however give them the benefit of doubt and assume that they consulted a soothsayer who for once had seen visions of Burkina Faso and Yemen and thought same would naturally be the fate for Nigeria.
Last week, a plethora of media outfits stated that Boko Haram was ready and willing to negotiate with the Nigerian Government. Their terms would ‘presumably’ be, releasing 219 girls in exchange for their leaders who have been in Government’s custody fo a while.
I was born in the military era. My earliest memory is of me walking the streets of Orile in Lagos, without light, just hurricane lamps (atupa), and kerosene lamps lit by the roadside by men and women calling prospective buyers to their makseshift stalls.
Some might call that the good old days but for me, it was a time of darkness. Everything I remember from that period is meshed in black and white like an uncoloured passport. I do not despise my little beginnings. However, I am grateful to God for the age I am in now. There is more light. Ironically, there is less food and our spending power has grossly diminished, but that is not a discussion for today.
To my topic however, today in Nigeria, it seems as though people have lost sight of hardwork. Everyone wants to make quick money. The money we spend, enjoy while it lasts and complain about cash never being enough to spend.
When the Nigerian Government and MEND met, they reached an agreement which culminated in an Amnesty Program geared towards taking the guns out of the creeks of the Niger Delta and sending ex-militants to school. Five years on, the Government has not come out to show us where these ex-militants have done with the education they acquired.
Would it be that violence is the only weapon which the masses can use to speak to the Government of Nigeria?
Ex-militants sent to Igbinedion University and Universities abroad on tax payers’ monies. Money that could have been channeled towards refurbishing the delapidated infrastructure in our Universities and Teaching Hospitals was instead invested into the lives of men who at every slight pinch, pick up sticks and threaten to use force in a bid to collect allowances for no work done.
Perhaps, students in Universities who go to school on the goodwill of their parents should learn from those ex-militants. When their bursary is due and remains unpaid, how about they go to the liaison office of their respective states in their states of study and seize the officers in charge?
With the complaints made by MEND now making the news, the Government of Nigeria is sure to respond by asking that the “students” be paid their due.
I attended a federal University, made a 2-1, never received bursary, yet my colleagues and I never formed a group to terrorize my state Government for the stipend. Laziness is what has caused these ex-militsnts to gather the courage and speak up about school fees. People who’s monthly allowances could have paid for my tuition up to Doctorate level.
In all honesty, I would like to believe that the Change is here and that President Buhari would act like a “disciplined” soldier that he is and nip this distasteful occurrence in the bud. The ball is in your court sir, what is your move?