The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) on Tuesday said that the federal government’s clampdown on former President Goodluck Jonathan’s men from the Niger Delta region was a witch-hunt targeted at prominent Niger Delta people.
IYC President Udengs Eradiri made the observation in a news conference in Yenagoa, listing Raymond Dokpesi, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and Government Tompolo, amongst others. He did not say anything about Ret. Colonel Sambo Dasuki, Attahiru Bafarawa, media mogul Raymond Dokpesi, or Bashir Yuguda.
The Youth leader cited the sharp drop in the 2016 budget estimate for the amnesty programme from N50bn to N20bn as being part of the ‘plot’ against the Niger Delta people, adding that the reduction also affected the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Eradiri stated that the reduction in budget estimates for the intervention agencies for the Niger Delta region portends harsh economic woes for the region, arguing that slashing such estimates for the region from where 90% of the estimated N6trn revenue for 2016 was unfair.
He expressed the view that that nonpayment of stipends to ex-militants has increased the crime rate in the region.
“The amnesty programme boosted oil production from 60,000 barrels per day to over 2 million barrels as at today, we feel that the fund being spent to sustain the amnesty programme is worthwhile and justified.
“The slashing of the amnesty funds is an indication that the amnesty programme cannot be sustained and this can trigger crisis in the region and endanger the economic life wire of the nation,” the youth leader said.
He called on the federal government to reverse the reduction of the estimates so as to avoid jeopardizing the expected sources of revenue to meet the expectations of Nigerians and fulfill its campaign promises.
Eradri further urged the federal government to make its current anti-corruption policy holistic, rather than target prominent Niger Delta people in the administration of former president Jonathan.
“We are fully in support of the anticorruption policy but we insist that it should not be selective, anyone who held public office should give account of his stewardship,” he said.
On the Bayelsa governorship polls, the IYC President said that his group remained non-partisan, and commended the electoral commission for cancelling the results of the elections in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
He urged commission to ensure that the rescheduled election in the area was peaceful.