Hundreds of former members of the militiant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) met over the weekend and demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari speed up the formulation of policies to tackle rising insecurity as well as worsening economic challenges in Nigeria.
The former MEND leaders met in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State, under the aegis of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI).
They condemned the recent spate of attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in Plateau, Kano, Kaduna and Borno states where hundreds of innocent persons have been killed in suicide bombings. The ex-MEND leaders said they were worried by the slow pace of the Buhari administration's response to the country's economic and security crises. The group wondered why the present administration had failed to constitute a formidable team made of technocrats to run the affairs of the nation.
In a communique, the ex-militants stated that their meeting deliberated "on some salient issues bothering our dear nation, among which are the new wave of attacks in the North, economy and the unpaid stipends and allowances of amnesty beneficiaries."
The communique urged President Buhari "to have a rethink on the dismantling of checkpoints across hot beds of Northern parts of Nigeria" in order to better combat "the horrendous acts being perpetrated by the evil butchers known as Boko Haram."
The document stated that Mr. Buhari's "slow attitude is making mockery of the 'change' slogan he and his party canvassed during electioneering."
It asked the administration "to wield its might by keeping to its word that 'Boko Haram will soon know the collective will of our are power' by engaging various stakeholders to put an end to this callous, ruthless and senseless killings of innocent souls."
The former MEND leaders also disclosed that they receive calls daily from members at home and aboard who are amnesty beneficiaries "passing through various harrowing experiences at schools, while some at Igbinedion University are on the verge of being barred from writing their final year examinations since they could not pay their fees while some at Jordan schooling have been totally evicted from their homes and now living on handouts from friends."
They urged the president to authorize disbursement of funds by the Amnesty Office.
The group praised Mr. Buhari "on the recent bailout to the states owing workers salaries," imploring him to "extend the same gesture to the Amnesty beneficiaries home and abroad studying in one varsity or another because some of the Amnesty beneficiaries are being threatened by community police abroad since they could not pay their house rents or school fees."
They appealed to the president "to give directives to someone to sign for the disbursement of funds at the Amnesty Office because we have reliable information that over 5 billion naira is in its coffers left by Kingsley Kuku to offset allowances of Amnesty beneficiaries."