It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the public hearing by the Senate Committee on Niger Delta on the activities of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AMNESTY PROGRAMME.
The Nigerian Senate recognizes the importance of the Amnesty programme to the sustenance of peace and security in the Niger Delta region. In the wisdom of the Federal Government led by late President Umaru Yaradua, he granted amnesty to the Niger Delta militants as part of a desperate effort to curb the restiveness in the oil rich region in 2009.
The Amnesty programme was envisaged to last for a short period of three years and then to be mainstreamed into the broader development framework of the Ministry of Niger Delta affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). But six years down the line the Amnesty programme still constitutes a huge budgetary cost to the Federal government.
The current incidence of pipeline vandalism and destruction of oil facilities by the Niger Delta militants have resulted in no small measure in causing the current economic recession that has presently gripped the country. It has reduced the quantity of crude produced daily from two to one million barrels per day thereby reducing dollar inflow to the National treasury. As part of the recommendation of the Senate to the Federal government on possible ways to get over the current recession, we suggested that the Executive branch of government should enter into dialogue and negotiation with senior citizens and stakeholders in the Niger Delta region, in the current efforts to find solutions to this renewed agitations.
A chain they say is as strong as its weakest link. Nigeria needs every component of the Federation to be at peace with herself. Distinguished Senators and invited guests, as we sit down to discuss, we must remember to put the Nation first in our thoughts and recommendations. Greed and personal interest is largely the reason why, despite all the interventionist programmes, the Niger Delta region still remains largely underdeveloped.
Seven years down the line since the conceptualization of the Amnesty programme can we truly say that the primary reason for that decision has been achieved? Has the restiveness and the frayed nerves reduced? Has the vandalism of oil facilities in the region stopped? What impact has the payment of monthly stipends made to the youths of the region? How sustainable is the Amnesty programme to the Federal government of Nigeria? Some of these questions will form a crux of the deliberation in this public hearing.
At this point ladies and gentlemen, I officially declare this public hearing open.
Thank you for listening.