Leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, has explained why he called a meeting of top ex-militant leaders in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Saturday.
Tompolo said in an electronic mail on Friday that he called the meeting in response to the anxiety generated by the delay in the payment of stipends to beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme.
President Buhari had suspended payment of salaries, stipends and amnesty allowances since May which has resulted in the expulsion of several delegates of the programme in foreign countries.
Tompolo explained that the meeting became necessary because majority of the beneficiaries of the programme did not have the expected understanding of the reason for the delay in the payment of the salaries and allowances of the Amnesty Programme.
He said that he and other ex-militant leaders were under intense pressure to explain to most of the beneficiaries who had the suspicion that the seeming suspension of the allowances could be a ploy to stop the programme.
Tompolo added that the recent expulsion of some trainees and students by various institutions outside the country aggravated such fears among those enlisted in the programme.
He said, “I am compelled to clarify issues as they relate to the meeting of the leadership of ex-agitators under the platform of MEND and other organisations summoned at my instance.
“Nonetheless, while some of us understand to an extent, the apparent delay in the continued payment of the monthly stipends to the ex-agitators in view of the seeming scrutiny of government agencies, including the amnesty office by the current administration, same cannot be said of the majority of beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme.
“To this extent, some of us, particularly other leaders and I have been under intense pressure from ex-agitators, commanders, individuals, parents and guardians as well as communities who are beneficiaries of the Amnesty programme.
“While a few see the delay in the payment of their monthly stipends in the light of the need for the current government to settle down properly, others see the delay as a template to stop the programme. The expulsion of some students (home and overseas) by their schools and training institutions particularly has heightened these fears.”
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