Re: Itsekiri Youths Were Not Listed in Amnesty- A Rejoinder by Itsekiri Youths

For the attention of the Nigerian people and international bodies that have so far been involved in the execution of the amnesty programme

AN OPEN COMMENT ON HON. KINGSLEY KUKU’S (SPECIAL ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT ON NIGER DELTA) WHY FORMALLY ARMED ITSEKIRI YOUTHS WERE NOT ENLISTED IN THE PRESIDENTIAL AMNESTY PROGRAMME AS CONTINUED IN VANGUARD NEWSPAPER OF WEDNESDAY,MAY 23, 2012, PAGE 51

On Thursday 17th May, 2012 our organization, (INYC) appeared before the House of Representatives’ committee on public petitions; upon the invitation the committee graciously extended to use in response to a petition we had earlier lodged with the honourable house. The petition was over the non-inclusion of formally armed itsekiri youths that responded to the 25th June, 2009 Presidential Amnesty Proclamation. Also invited (and equally present) as a result of our petition was the special adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley kuku and his officials.
 
During the hearing, which was attended by an assorted spectrum of stake holders, including the media, the committee graciously allotted fair time and opportunities for both petitioner and respondent to present their respective positions on the issue in contention. To the best of our understanding, the committee was most professional with the proceedings as it undisputedly, critically, and analytically asked different probing and incisive questions with both parties exploring the allotted time and opportunities to put forward and articulate their positions. The media coverage remains especially commendable. On our part, we had hoped that both parties will have to stay further action pending the final decision of the Honorable house on the petition, and thus refrain from all conducts that can allude to possible lack of confidence on the institution of national assembly. The remains our position even up till now, we shall continue to resist the temptation of acting otherwise. And because of it takes two to dialogue, we urge the respondent not to create a situation that will validate the suspicion that our people (formally armed itsekiri youths) are the unfortunate victims of lawlessness and ethno-centric extremism under which many other components of the Niger Delta region appear to already been lamenting. In our unflinching confidence in the ability of the house committee to do justice in this matter, we will refuse to succumb to be swayed from the honourable path of civility and respect for the institutions of the National Assembly.
 
While we remain glued to the above commitment, however, the massive enquiries and calls on officers of INYC for clarifications from a mass of readers of Nigeria newspapers (within and outside Nigeria) who are stunned and piqued by Hon. Kuku’s story which alleged that INYC had from beginning showed resentment for the post-amnesty programme deserves to be corrected so that such readers and others might not in their innocence blame the collectivity of formally armed Itsekiri youths, who have been disarmed, demobilized but denied the opportunities of rehabilitation because of their itsekiriness.
According to Hon. Kuku on why formally armed itsekiri youths were not enlisted as contained in the advert referred to above, he wrote and referring to our National president that:
 
‘’Speaking for the entire itsekiri youths, Hon David Tonwe told the team from presidential’’ committee on amnesty and the Armed forces that, they (Itsekiri youths) would not accept to be enlisted in the post amnesty programme since they were not ex-militants.
 
The above claim by Hon. Kuku which is most unfortunate remains the echo of his own voice, or at best figment of his imagination .This lie will appear to have been concocted, to in part legitimize and rationalize a predetermined ethno-centric politics of exclusionism and alienation of ‘qualified’ Itsekiri youths. Also, it will appear to validate the suspicion that there is a scheme to mislead the unsuspecting public with a view to paper a well-orchestrated policy of greed and ethnic chauvinism and hegemony. Within a period of almost two years during which we dialogued with the office of the special assistant to the president on this issue, there was never a time when this defence was made by either by Hon. Kuku or his predecessor, who is also of same ethnic extraction. Can anything be more of an afterthought than this?
 
It is well rightly said that to leave a lie un-refuted is to encourage intellectual immorality propelled by this reasoning, we deem it fit imperative to place the facts in public domain to refute the lie contained in the publication.
 
The truth is that on 2nd of October, 2009 which was the day the cache of arms and ammunition were submitted by INYC to the amnesty committee, the national president of INYC, Hon. David Tonwe made to documented statements clearly stating the willingness of disarmed itsekiri youths to participate in the post amnesty programme. The first is contained in an open advert to late president Umaru Yar’adua (vanguard Friday. October 2, 2009-p.43) and signed by Hon. David Tonwe and Mr. Isaac Dorsu (National secretary) in which INYC said:
 
‘’it is our conviction that Your Excellency will reciprocate our display of such loyalty and sincerity of purpose to your administration and that itsekiri land and itsekiri people will benefit from your post-amnesty packages.’’
 
The second statement by Hon. David Tonwe, which was contained in his address to the members of the amnesty committee, while presenting the arms and ammunition on 2nd of October, 2009 run thus:
‘’it is our hope that when the post amnesty programme comes up for implementations particularly those aspects of human capital and infrastructural developments, the itsekiri Nation will not as usual be short-changed and precluded from participating from its benefits because of our usual peaceful dispositions and as minority configuration.
 
We are aghast as to how both statements(of prophetic contents) by Hon. David Tonwe as quoted above can be interpreted, and dubiously twisted to mean or as indictive of INYC leadership’s repugnant stance towards post amnesty programme. Such deduction arising from weak capacity of telling-truth cannot but be a product of bad reasoning and disjointed linguistic interpretation and analysis. However, Hon. Kuku in his capacity as a public officer of his status is morally bound to tell the public where and when he heard, or came about the statement he credited to Hon. David Tonwe, except upturning truths constitute part of his definiens. We implore the public to judge.
 
In the same advert of May 23rd, 2012 earlier referred to, Hon. Kuku emphatically asserted that he has requested Mr. President to approve the inclusion of formally armed itsekiri youths among beneficiaries of the post amnesty programme. According to Hon. Kuku;
 
‘’The presidential request has been sought but unfortunately the request got to Mr. President at a time when several other Niger Delta youths had begun blocking major roads in Bayelsa and Delta states agitating to be included….. Given this very negative attitude of these youths, the president emphatically directed that there should be no new inclusions in the post-amnesty programme.’’
 
We significantly note the above specifically that the non-inclusion of ‘qualified’ Itsekiri youths into the programme rests on Mr. President (and not presidency). We shall not comment on this for now. Furthermore, we are worried by the terrible coincidence such that it was the very time that a presidential directive was being sought for to include ‘qualified’ youths of itsekiri extraction into the programme that several other Niger Delta youths had begun blocking major roads in Bayelsa and Delta states. We are aware that by reference to Niger Delta youths, Hon kuku means Ijaw youths. We implore the public to judge.
 
Hon. Kuku in the already mentioned advert further went to inform that:
‘’As a follow-up……Mr. President directed …. Particularly, the Ministry of Niger Delta and the Niger Delta Development Commission to seek out and promptly implement programmes that would offer training and man power development opportunities to youths in the Niger Delta…’’
 
There is no doubt that some time ago, the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in an advertorial gave names of hundreds (at least) of youths supposedly from entire region that were to be trained in different professions. A cursory look at the names slated for the said programme had more names bearing ‘Orubebe’ than the names of the entire Itsekiri beneficiaries in the said programme. This is not surprising to us. As we have repeatedly informed, Elder Orubebe for example single handedly removed the 20 housing units approved for Itsekiri communities (during the presidency of late Alhaji Yar’Adua with chief uffot Ekaete as the head of the Ministry) and relocate same to the ijaw communities, even when chief Ekaete had already allocated 20 to ijaw communities before his sack by President Goodluck Jonathan. It is important to note that in Delta state the Itsekiri Nation is the highest producer of crude oil while at the national level, the Itsekiri is ranked second to the Ijaw nation which is the first. However, in terms of projects allocation (in hundreds) as advertised by the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, only one (which is canalization of Bateren creek) is allotted to the Itsekiri Nation. The proposed state of helms of affairs of the ministry. We conjecture that the non-take-off of the projects in any of the affected states of Niger Delta region is because Warri will be one of the beneficiaries which Elder Orubebe would not want. We want to put it on record that Hon. Kuku’s claim that:
 
‘’President Goodluck Jonathan in October,2010 briefly opened the window and after thorough screening….. 6,166 disarmed agitators were enlisted for the second phase……’’ became known to us only on the 17th of May, 2012. We challenge Hon. Kuku to produce any evidence to the effect that he informed the INYC.
 
We are not unaware of the character of the Nigerian state which largely rules out principles of fairness and the politics of moderation, and the tolerance of the views and rights of perceived enemies. This, no doubt explain Hon. Kuku’s policies of outright exclusion of formally armed Itsekiri youths from among the beneficiaries of the post amnesty programme solely because of the not too distant past differences between the Ijaw and Itsekiri nations. What INYC has painfully learnt in recent times is that, While the different ethnic nations in the south-south region individually and collectively are stubbornly in unison in RIGHTLY OR WRONGLY accusing the national majority trio of Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba of respectively and collectively ,tyrannizing and hegemonising over the rest groups of Nigeria and appropriating for themselves unfair share of our common patrimony of their advantage, what is now clear is that, the majority group within the south-south configuration. Which coincidentally has now finds itself in the acme of the political power has through some of its members in the different positions of political authority remains(than the mentioned trio) far more vicious, greedy and intensely abysmal in all known indices of accommodation, moderation and tolerance of the interests and lamentations of their neighbors. This is our current lot in the south-south region.
 
 
Signed: 
Mr. Omolubi Newuwumi (National President)
Mr. Isaac Dorsu(National secretary)
ITSEKIRI NATIONAL YOUTHS COUNCIL (INYC)
90,AJAMIMOGHA STREET,WARRI
Email: [email protected]

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