November 29, 2020

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Govt, Niger Delta leaders agree to end Amnesty programme soon

2 min read

By Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt and Simeon Utebor, Yenagoa

Stakeholders in the Niger Delta on Thursday agreed that the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) should end after the integration of all the beneficiaries of the scheme.

Traditional rulers, political leaders and past and present officers of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide met with the Administrator of PAP, Col. Milland Dixion Dikio (retd), in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

Some of the leaders urged the Federal Government to ensure that the programme was given the needed financial support to execute its reintegration phase.

They maintained that the Federal Government should achieve all conceptualised benefits for PAP before winding it up.

They thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Dikio as the interim administrator and expressed optimism that with him, PAP would realise its objectives.

The leaders also called on Dikio to clean the Augean stable in the amnesty office by identifying and firing the people that had used the PAP to feed their greed and perpetrate fraud.

Read Also; Niger Delta: Amnesty boss meets Tompolo, Ateke, Boyloaf, others

On the issue of reintegration and empowerment, they advised the administrator to consider agriculture as a major component of his plans and to revive PAP training centres.

Elder statesman and nationalist, Chief Edwin Clark, urged the Federal Government not to rush to end the amnesty programme.

Addressing Dikio, Clark said: “I and other elders from the Niger Delta will continue to work with you to ensure your tenure succeeds.

“I want to urge all to continue to do all that is possible for us to keep the peace as we continue to fight for justice, equity and fairness in Nigeria.

“I equally urge everybody that is gathered here that through you and all our other brothers in the region to give our son, our brother the cooperation for him to succeed.”

Bayelsa Governor Douye Diri, represented by his Commissioner for Ijaw Affairs, Mr Patrick Erasmus, said the government would provide accommodation for the programme.

“Bayelsa State is keen to have the office of the amnesty in this state. This summit is kind of a forum to interrogate the programme and to know where they got it wrong and the areas they have fared well,” he said.

Dikio said he convened the summit to interact with the custodians of the region.

He said the meeting allowed him to understand some of the plights of the people and promised to quarterly hold similar engagements in the region.

Highlighting the demerits of the protest in the region, Dikio said: “The approach of protest over the years has scared many businesses away from the region. Therefore, we must find creative ways to bring back businesses to the region.”

There were goodwill messages from an Ijaw leader, Mr T.K Ogoriba and former President of Ijaw Youth Council, Mr Udengs Eradiri.