30th January, 2015
Former Niger Delta militants undergoing the amnesty programme have signified their intention to donate N30 million for the purchase of relief materials for victims of Boko Haram insurgency in North East Nigeria, Kingsley Kuku, Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta revealed at a forum in Abuja on Thursday.
At the forum, also attended by some of the leaders of the ex-militants and government officials and organised to proffer solutions to the problems of Boko Haram, Kuku said the donation will come from the N65,000 monthly stipends being paid to the 30,000 former agitators undergoing the amnesty programme.
He added that the donation is an example of how people in other parts of the country can contribute to alleviating the suffering of Boko Haram victims in North East Nigeria.
“What they get as stipends is N65,000. They told me that they are going to write me to cause me to take N1,000 each from their stipends- it is not little money, it will amount to N30 million and they will want me to do that knowing the right government agency to buy relief materials for the people in the North East,” Kuku said, adding that with the gesture, the former militants have shown they have begun to think pan Nigeria.
“They came up with that and I was amazed. What that means is that they are beginning to feel what the people in North East are feeling,” said Kuku who added that the precedence set by the ex-militants with the donation will further unify the country.
The presidential adviser who also took questions from the audience on a range of issues also denied reports that leaders of the ex-militants agreed at a meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State last weeked to declare war on the country if President Jonathan did not win the February, 2015 presidential elections.
Kuku, who was also present at the meeting, said the forum was convened to douse tension among ex-agitators over recent stoning of President Jonathan’s campaign team in some states in the Northern part of the country.
The essence of the meeting, he said was to convince the ex- agitators that there was no agreement among Northerners to stone the President, rather the stoning incident was the handiwork of miscreants who can also do the same thing in other parts of the country.
“The North did not attack the President on his way to Bauchi and on his way to Katsina. There was never an agreement made by Northerners or people in Bauchi or Katsina to attack the President,” said Kuku who attributed the stoning to miscreants.
“Miscreants are all over the world- in Bayelsa, Katsina, Bauchi, Port Harcourt, you can find them. So, if they have done that there, it is also possible that some miscreants can do that in Lagos or anywhere else. So, there was the need to meet the ex-freedom fighters and assure them that the President was not under any threat. That was the essence of the meeting.”
Kuku noted that some of the ex-militants present at the meeting expressed strong dissatisfaction over the stoning of the President’s campaign team during the campaign stops in Bauchi and Katsina states.
“But we were able to convince them that it is not an organized thing targeted at the President.”
He however agreed that Dokubo Asari, the leader of Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force who was at the meeting spoke about declaring war on Nigeria in retaliation for the attacks.
“But what he said was his personal opinion. I read the communiqué and there was no call for war in the resolution read.”
Kuku also disagreed that the outcome of 2015 elections may lead to resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta, though he agreed that there will be reactions to the outcome of the polls.
“The elections and results are bound to elicit some reactions, but whatever it is, the country is too big for any particular interest. We must all contribute towards protecting this country. We must discourage anything that will lead this country going to war. There is no going to war for any reason.”
On the argument that Northerners in the President’s cabinet led by Namadi Sambo should lead talks with Boko Haram just like the President did with Niger Delta militants when he was the Vice President, Kuku said the two situations are different.
He argued that while President Jonathan as the deputy governor of governor of Bayelsa State may not have met leaders of the ex-agitators like Tompolo and Boyloaf, he at least knew them by name and also knew the communities they came from, arguing that Sambo and other Northerners in the President’s cabinet did not have that advantage.
“Jonathan as a deputy governor knew Tompolo, he didn’t meet him, but he knew that name. Tompolo has a human face, he knew Ogunbos, they might not have met. So even if he had no direct contact with them, their faces, their contacts were there.
“Namadi Sambo does not have that advantage. The NSA does not have that advantage, he might get security report. The advantage that Tompolo is from Gbaramatu Kingdom, we don’t have it with Boko Haram,” said Kuku who also noted that the struggle by Niger Delta militants was different from that of the Boko Haram group. “The Niger Delta (militancy) is a clear cut struggle. But this (Boko Haram) is an agitation, an insurgency that is externally influenced and externally funded. That is the problem.”