The Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Charles Dokubo, has said the hitherto volatile Niger Delta region has become the most peaceful part of the country ready for economic development.
Dokubo expressed the view in Abuja on Thursday after meeting with the leaders of the region, adding that the prevailing peace in the region was an indication of the successes so far recorded.
In a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Bassey Ganagana, the coordinator reiterated his determination to speedily retool the programme by making it more robust to impact former agitators in the region.
He said the ultimate goal of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was to achieve sustainable development in the region.
“I am exceedingly grateful to God Almighty for making this day possible. I have really been looking forward to this family meeting.
“It is not a secret that the programme has since 2010 aided the attainment of relative peace, safety and security in the Niger Delta.
“Today, the region, once noted for its volatility, may be regarded as the most peaceful part of Nigeria.’’
Dokubo said that the Amnesty Programme had achieved its core mandate to a reasonable extent.
“The programme has aided the processes of building and sustaining peace and safety in the Niger Delta and the entire Gulf of Guinea.
“I am not saying that we have attained perfection or Eldorado of sorts; I am only saying that the situation would have been far worse in the region and of course for the economy of our dear country.’’
He noted that “prior to the proclamation of unconditional amnesty for former agitators in the Niger Delta in 2009, disruptions in the exploration, processing and export of crude oil almost brought our economy to a standstill.
“Unfortunately, Nigeria’s economy which largely depends on earnings from oil exports, haemorrhaged very badly during this sad era of militancy.
“The situation got so bad that on a particular day in 2008, Nigeria was only able to produce 700,000 barrels of crude oil.”
Dokubo noted that Nigeria was able to meet its current OPEC quota of 2.2 million barrels per day owing to the success of the programme.
“We must all thank, most profusely, the ex-agitators in the Niger Delta, who have continued to keep the peace in accordance with the pact they entered with the Federal Government after accepting the offer of amnesty.
“Kudos must also go to you our traditional, religious, opinion, intellectual and community leaders as well as the leaderships of ethnic nationalities and youth groups in the Niger Delta.
“So, topmost among the reasons why I have called this meeting is to, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria, thank you all.
“I want to thank you most sincerely for the critical roles you have all continued to play either as individuals or group to help sustain and even deepen peace in the Niger Delta.
“I chose to regard the Niger Delta as work-in-progress and I am happy to inform the leaders of the region assembled here that the ultimate goal of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is to achieve sustainable development in all facets of the region.
“The good news is that, speaking about peace, safety and security, I dare say that the Niger Delta is perhaps the most conducive region for development in Nigeria today.”