Director General of Abuja-based Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Dr. Bakut Bakut, says the organization facilitated the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme which ended persistent agitations by militants in the Niger Delta.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Federal Government had commissioned the institute to broker peace between the government and the militants to end the Niger Delta conflict.
“Most Nigerians know that there was amnesty for Niger Delta militants, but nobody will tell you that this institute is actually responsible for the idea of amnesty. In this same institute, we had some of the Niger Delta leaders — people like Ateke Tom and others. They actually came to this institute. We had negotiations with them and we were able to arrive at what has today become the amnesty programme”, Bakut said.
He lamented that Nigerians were either unaware or do not appreciate the significant role the institute had been playing since it was established 21 years ago.
“Within this period of 21 years, the institute has done a lot of analyses and researches as well as interventions, capacity building and policy advice to government. We have done a lot of work with regard to the Niger Delta issue”.
Bakut said the institute had also facilitated and ensured that the right of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria’s war-ravaged North East to vote during elections was not lost as the IDPs were able to cast their votes in the 2015 general elections, adding that the task of making it possible for the IDPs to vote was the outcome of the collaboration of the institute with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“Also, on the issue of Boko Haram in 2015, there was the problem of whether the IDPs would be allowed to participate in the elections. Again, it was the IPCR that had to go to INEC to present a position paper to them and say this is what has to be done.
“The institute was thereafter, able to persuade INEC to get IDPs to vote in 2015. In the area of the armed forces absorbing the civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), again it was the institute that made it possible- in furtherance of our policy: After Boko Haram what Next’’, which suggested that rather than letting the JTF go, they should be given the opportunity to join the armed forces so that they would not become our problem later.”
Bakut said that the IPCR had been doing a lot toward ensuring that banditry and killing of farmers by herdsmen were stamped out in the country.