N20b Budget They are systematically frustrating Amnesty Programme —Ex-militant leader, Muturu

Kingsley Muturu, ex-militant under the Phase 2 of the Amnesty Programme, in this interview, raises issues over the running of the programme, calling attention to the amount approved for the programme as contained in this year’s budget. Excerpts: The National Assembly has finally passed the 2016 Appropriation Bill into law, what is your comment on the exercise? I commend them for their efforts to ensure that the rule of law prevails in a democratic setting like ours. We saw the intrigues in the debate before the passage of the document. Let us continue to encourage democracy to thrive in the country. You raised some issues in your last interview over the amount appropriated for running the amnesty programme. Are you satisfied with what has been done so far? Well, I will first of all, thank Mr. President for listening to the various calls to extend the Amnesty Programme to allow for the successful conclusion. But, I want to say that there is now a sharp contradiction in the President’s gesture and the amount approved for the running of the programme in the budget. Nigerians can attest to the fact that the programme is gradually coming to a successful end with evidence of successfully trained Niger Delta youths in various endeavours, as well as those still in higher institutions abroad and also those yet to go for training. It is clear that the N20 billion approved as opposed to the usual N40 billion in previous budgets is a deliberate attempt by government to stifle smooth running of the programme. This is because we, the beneficiaries, in the programme, upon hearing the amount during preparation of the nation’s budget, made several calls and appeals to government through the media on the need to do the needful to ensure smooth running of the programme by revisiting the proposal for the programme. You mean the Federal Government is trying to frustrate what it started with good intention for Niger Delta ex-militants? How can government approve such an amount for the running of the Amnesty Programme, knowing fully well that it cannot cater for the running of the programme? As I am talking to you, the issue caused apprehension, in the Niger Delta, that training of ex-agitators and that their stipends may be stalled due to the amount approved. We see this action as deliberate; it is designed systematically to frustrate the running of the programme. We also reason that this is the will of some people who never wanted the programme to be successful in the first place. But, don’t you believe the President meams well for the programme by extending it, after he discovered the wuccess the proramme has achieved? Well, going by his inaugural speech and subsequent actions on the programme, I can agree with you. But the question oner may ask, is how can the same government decide to appropriate such a far less budget for the running of the programme? Has politics or ill-will crept in? We expected that judging by the President’s disposition and the inaugural speech, where he promised to implement the programme to a successful concluion, as well as his other speeches on the programme,that he would be giving attention than the previous government which did its best. It is not in the best interest of government to frustrate the programme which has reached an advanced stage with appreciable results for the nation. So, what are you suggesting that government should do ? Government knows best on what to do. It is the shipmaster steering the ship and it should know where to steer it to. To us who are the beneficiaries, we have good intentions for the nation as we have been given better orientation in the polity through the Amnesty Programme. We now know how to approach issues better than when we were in the creeks. We want President Muhammadu Buhari to know that what is in the budget for the Amnesty Programme will stifle the programme. The programme should be given its deserved attention by government for its successful conclusion.

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