PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL MEETS MILITANTS
By Elizabeth Archibong
March 26, 2010 03:24AM
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan (m) in a group photograph with members of the Presidential Advisory Committee after their inauguration
The Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) headed by Theophilus Danjuma, a retired General, yesterday met with heads of Niger Delta militant groups in Abuja, as part of plans to revive the amnesty programme.
The programme, an initiative of our ailing president, Umaru Yar'Adua, is regarded as his government's highest achievement.
A military source who was at the meeting, confirmed that it held at the Transcorp Hotel, Abuja, and that it precedes another meeting between our acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, and the militants, scheduled for Friday at the Presidential Villa.
NEXT gathered that some militants were losing interest in the amnesty programme, accusing the federal government of not fulfilling its side of the bargain.
Last Tuesday, some former militants took over some streets in Benin City, the Edo State capital, protesting the nonpayment of their monthly allowance.
“This may be preceding the meeting which is expected to be holding between Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and the militants,” the source said.
The meeting is being convened to assure the ex-militants of our government's commitment to the post-amnesty programme and the development of the Niger Delta region.
Prior to the meeting held yesterday, the PAC leadership had invited key members of the Presidential Amnesty, Disarmament and Rehabilitation committee for a similar talk, with the aim of having a general idea of the federal government's level of commitment concerning the implementation of the various aspects of the amnesty deal.
One of those who had been invited to brief the Danjuma-led council is the coordinator of the disarmament arm of the programme, Lucky Ararile, an air commodore, who will give a report to the committee on the progress so far made in his area of assignment.
Although the outcome of the meeting was not known as at press time, a source at the meeting said the representatives of the militants were glad that the federal government was beginning to renew their confidence through this process, by affording them an opportunity to bare their minds.
It was also not clear as at press time, whether today's presidential meeting with the militants would be held at the acting president's office or at his residence in Aguda House.