How Not To Handle Amnesty Scheme | Independent Newspapers Limited
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COLUMNIST, Omnipossibilities

How Not To Handle Amnesty Scheme

Posted: May 22, 2015 at 12:38 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Writing as a guest columnist in a Nigerian newspaper the other day, Senator- elect Ben Murray- Bruce set forth an agenda he believes the Buhari Presidency must pursue from day One of his era. After establishing the point that the retired army General must serve Nigeria and not his All Progressives Congress (APC)  Murray –Bruce declared: “He (Buhari) must remember that in Nigeria’s subjective politics, it was his person that people voted for not his party and he should therefore serve the dish they are angling for.”

Further analysis of the issue let the founder of the Silverbird Television, Rhythm 93.7 Fm and Silverbird Cinemas to reach out to the old philosophy of late Chinese leader Den Xiaoping pithily captured in his famous saying : “ It doesn’t matter weather a cat is black or white; if he catches mice, it is a good cat.”

Driving his point home, Ben Bruce proposes: “This is where Buhari has to learn from Xiaoping. Xiaoping refused to demonize Chairman Mao, his predecessor who had purged him from power and placed him under house arrest after stripping him off his privileges. Instead of bitterness, Xiaoping believed that Mao’s” accomplishments must be considered before his mistakes.

“This is how Buhari must treat his predecessors. He must not demonise everything that was done by previous administrations and mark those who served in that government as persona non grata. He must take the bitter with the sweet and make use of the best brains Nigeria has to offer.”

Now if I am asked to pick one dance step and music of the Jonathan Presidency that should be given an encore in the Buhari government I will not hesitate to mention the Amnesty initiative for the Niger Delta militants. It is “one accomplishment that must be considered before his (Jonathan) mistakes. It must not be exercised, meaning it must be demonized.                                             Whether the incoming administration decides to review its vision and mission, or whether it opts to fine-tune its modus operandi, the Niger Delta pardon pact should not be stifled out of existence. Sprung into life on June 29, 2009, by President Yar ‘Adua, Amnesty for the militants has succeeded in ushering peace to a region which produces the mainstay of the nation’s wealth. The relative peace in the area in turn halted the flight of business and capital as well as oil revenue the nation was experiencing as a result of the militants’ war.

We must ponder over some figures to appreciate what the successful post Amnesty plan of the Jonathan Administration has done for the economy and people of Nigeria. In 2008 alone, we lost N3tr as a result of the crisis of the militants in the Niger Delta. Later in the first quarter of 2009 Nigeria’s export dwindled to as low as between 700,000 and 800,000 barrels a day.

Add to that the hundreds of lives lost, the insecurity that prevented social, economic and industrial activities in the region and you’d captured the total aura of despair and its spiral effects on every facet of the Nigerian society.

Cynics will ask: if Amnesty has thus posted such a significant performance why sustain it with colossal funds in the face austere economic conditions? Why not let it rest in its glory so that other schemes can come on board and contribute their quota?

I also bring up these posers: if we scrap the programme, what happen to the scores of young Nigerian men and women the Amnesty office is training oversea and in Nigeria who will soon return to the country to form part of the vast professional workforce needed for the change will all voted for in the 2015 general election? Should their lofty pursuits and dreams be ruined because of the change in government? Do governments not exist to support the patriotic ambitions of their citizens regardless of their gender race and politics?

I have read about young Clifford Wilson, who after years in the creeks as an implacable enemy of the state, has now become a pilot trained by the Amnesty Office … One day in the close future, Clifford Wilson may be in the cockpit of the jet ferrying President Muhammadu Buhari across land and sea in the course of the numerous trips ahead of him as our hardworking Head of State, thanks to Amnesty!

Last word …

Kudos Ogun Police!

The Police in Ogun State early this week proved the correctness of a time – honoured wisdom: where you have Police presence, criminal activities recede. Deeper Life Bible Church members and invited guests trooped in their legendary thousands to MKO Abiola Stadium Abeokuta for a crusade with their beloved Pastor W.F Kumuyi.

Many feared the attendant and logistic might give hoodlums a field day at the cricket pitch venue. But the all-night security patrol directed by the Police Commissioner Valentine Ntomchukwu to the scene and its environs discomfited the miscreants.

These anti social characters were there; but they were helpless in the face of the ubiquitous Policemen in their van.

A lesson: it is more effective to fight crime by deterring it.