Following the recent reappointment of Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), who replaced disengaged Professor Charles Dokubo as the Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, prominent leaders and youths in the oil rich Niger Delta region have continued to state their expectations from the Federal government, the National Security Adviser, NSA, and the reappointed amnesty boss.
While some stakeholders have expressed their loss of hope in the programme, others bored their mind on certain issues they said if addressed will ensure the effective, efficient and general well-being of the amnesty programme.
Some of the demands by leaders in the Niger Delta region include the call for an end to interim administrator in the amnesty programme, that a year will not yield deserved result and is too short for Milland Dikio to give the programme the desired time and concentration to come up with a design programme on how to successfully conclude the demobilization and reintegration of beneficiaries.
Also, that the National Security Adviser, NSA, should down play the supposed habit of bossing those he nominated. That Dikio be given the ample opportunity, free space, confidence to manage the process.
Again, that the A.A Lawal panel of inquiry that investigated the former boss, Dokubo which they believe still exist be terminated publically. The immediate implementation of the T.K Ogoriba’s report, which is the report of the monetary evaluation team constituted in 2020 by Dokubo to look into the amnesty programme from stakeholder’s perspective.
That the civil servant content of the amnesty programme is an aberration to a DDR programme, therefore the federal government should send out the civil servants and let professionals handle the programme, also, the proper demobilization of ex-agitators that are believed to be wallowing, straying within the Greeks, who have not been mobilized.
Briefing newsmen in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the national president, Movement for the Survival of Izon Ethnic Nationality in Niger Delta, MOSIEND, Hon. Kennedy Tonjo West said, “We want to bore our mind on certain issues concerning the Presidential Amnesty Programme. While we want to congratulate comrade Milland Dikio for being reappointed for a second tenure, we want to also commend the federal government for appointing him for the second time.
“We will also be quick to express our misgiven concerning the tenure. The presidential amnesty programme is a security programme that is meant to cater for 30,000 ex-freedom fighters, who on their own volition submitted the arms just for peace to reign in Nigeria and the federal government to make do the tilting problems of the region as annunciated in their various demands back into the struggle.
“Our concern is when you give one year; one year does not speak well of the seriousness of the programme, in the sense that what is it to achieve in one year. A year ago, president Buhari set up a committee to look into the presidential amnesty programme, come up with a recommendation, so that they can be able to block financial leakages and then give effectiveness, efficiency and seriousness to that programme, so that the deliverables can be felt on the beneficiaries. That committee did present a recommendation, our question is, is interim administrator and one year each, part of the recommendation? Amnesty is going to come to an end but if you give one year as tenure, you don’t give anybody who is saddled with that responsibility to manage it any time to be able to plan on how to round it up and exit.”
Tonjo-West stated that because of the mismanagement of amnesty programme, illegal bunkering and sea piracy has skyrocketed.
According to MOSIEND national president, “there are hundreds and thousands of beneficiaries of the programme in Rivers State that have not been sent on training.” He continued that, “in 2013, we went to Bakana to do a reclassification exercise for all those who have not been trained, we got about 1,500 beneficiaries that were not trained, we got close to 800 beneficiaries that were not receiving their stipend, that means they were short-changed one way or the other, our take is if you decide now to give Milland Dikio one year how is he going to first of all conduct a reclassification, account verification, because right now, we are in the demobilization and reintegration stage, more especially in the reintegration stage of it is where we are, so our take is the NSA should advise Mr. President professionally, such that the benefit of that programme will be seen.
“MOSIEND right now is partnering with the aggrieve militant leaders and MEND leaders in Rivers State to conduct a three days reclassification exercise, we have done it in 2013 and we are about to do it again, so that we can have all those who are in the programme that have not been trained over the years and present such document like we did in 2013 back to the presidential amnesty programme coordinator, for onward training and reintegration.
“We urge the national security adviser to try and advise Mr. President professionally on how DDR programme is been conducted because in our mind, it’s either the advisers of the NSA are misadvising him or he is not advising Mr. president appropriately, professionally. About fortnight ago, MEND leaders in Rivers State cried out concerning issues of short-change that emanated from 2015, 2016 amnesty beneficiaries account verification exercise that was carried out in stadium under Brigadier general Paul Boroh’s administration, that exercise culminated in yanking out most of the beneficiaries, who ordinarily when the leaders where paying them, their names where there and their names are also in the amnesty data bank but for one reason or the other they were all yanked out of the system, the worry there is that if you have yanked out this number of people in the system, how come the amnesty programme still pays N30,000?
“We conducted an account verification for a number of people, and then out of them XYZ number of beneficiaries were yanked out of the system, but if you go to my account record I am still paying the same number of people, so where exactly is that misnomer coming from? I want to say once more that our brother, the national security adviser should also down play the habit of bossing whoever he nominates, or treat them as one goffer somewhere.”
The pan Niger Delta group leader stressed that, “the reason why oil production is high is because the Niger Delta freedom fighters, our brothers decide to eschew violence and militancy and production has been increasing but I can tell you here that the amnesty programme in this administration is not receiving the kind of efficiency, the kind of robust support that it needs.
“We want to plead that Col. Milland Dikio be given that amble opportunity, that free space, that confidence to manage the process, it is not somebody rocking the cradle from behind. We want to query why the A.A Lawal investigation committee, what are they still doing, is A A Lawal the shadow amnesty administrator for the NSA?
“A.A Lawal works in the office of the national security adviser, he is made the head of the panel that investigated Professor Charles Dokubo, when issues of financial misappropriation and high handedness came into the system, A A Lawal’s office still exist till today, one year after Col. Dikio was appointed, and six months after Charles Dokubo was removed, you have all of these irregularities eating the system deeply.
“The reason why MOSIEND is coming out to say it is because we care about the peace, and security and socio-economic development of the region and one of the instruments that have brought about this peace is the amnesty programme so we do not take it lightly.”
MOSIEND while congratulating the amnesty boss, advised him to up his game, as much is expected of him to fulfill. They also encouraged him not to be vindictive to those leaders who feel that he has not performed in one year and does not want his return.
Tonjo-West reiterated that, “we are not comfortable with interim administrator, we are not comfortable with the one year because it will not yield deserved result that is expected, for the reason that there is no proper time for planning and execution, one year is too short a time and such person cannot concentrate unless the national security adviser is letting the Niger Deltas know that he wants to wrap-up the programme by any means necessary, and now begin to take a brigandage approach to bring the programme to an abrupt end, that we also say no to, because the 30,000 beneficiaries should have been trained, reintegrated before the programme can be closed, or brought to an end.
“So we want to appeal to the national security adviser, abruptly ending the amnesty programme will speak doom to the country’s economy, and to Niger Delta, give whosoever you have appointed the free hand and he should publically terminate the A.A Lawal panel of inquiry that investigated Dokubo, that is still existing behind the scene.
“We want to also bring this to the notice of the public, there are hundreds of ex-agitators that are wallowing, straying within our Greeks that have not been properly demobilized, there are so many of them that their stipend has not been paid to them since amnesty begun.”
“Lastly, the civil servant content of the amnesty programme is an aberration to a DDR programme so therefore the federal government should send out the civil servants and let the professionals handle the programme, one of the reason why it is failing is one, government is not allowing successive leaders to have a free hand, secondly, the civil servants have now seen the amnesty office as their coco farm, where they go there and starch money, so the problem of that programme, civil servants not allowing free hands for the coordinators to operate.”
“We want the programme to succeed, we want federal government to also succeed in the programme, and if that programme succeeds that means that thousands of our people would have gone through training, and injected into the labour market, some already working, the end result is that it will bring peace into the region, it will bring development into the region, it will limit insecurity in the region, so all of these benefits are enshrined around doing this programme effectively.”
Finally, he advised that, “in 2020, Professor Charles Dokubo in his wisdom constituted a monetary evaluation team to critically look into the amnesty programme from stakeholders perspective, benign vocation, education, host community, impacted community, all that has to do with the general well-being of the amnesty programme and came up with a proposal, a report, that report, we are urging the helmsman right now to pick up that report, dust it, study it and implement that T.K Ogoriba led committee report, it is going to bring about efficiency and effectiveness and prompt service delivery in the amnesty programme. We are saying that we have so much passion for the betterment of the Ijaw nation and Niger Delta and ensuring that security and progress, peace and prosperity reign. When these happen, Federal government will have their production unhindered, unhampered.