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Stakeholders in the Niger Delta have expressed optimism of sustainable peace in the restive region with fresh initiatives by the Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, (PAP) Prof. Charles Dokubo.
Mr Murphy Ganagana, Special Assistant (Media) to the coordinator in a statement on Monday in Abuja, said that the meeting would further deepen peace and stability in the oil-rich region.
According to Ganagana, the stakeholders also lauded Dokubo for successfully hosting key leaders of ex-agitators of various camps in the Niger Delta at a meeting recently.
He, however, quoted a community leader, Chief Famous Ayakpo, as saying the meeting was the first of its kind by the leadership of the Presidential Amnesty Programme since its creation in 2009.
“Since the establishment of the Amnesty Programme, nobody has been able to bring together the major five leaders of ex-agitators to sit and discuss how to keep the peace and move the Niger Delta forward.
“It is an indication of serious interest by the Federal Government to enthrone sustainable peace in the Niger Delta to enhance infrastructural and human capital development as well as job creation for the youths,’’ he quoted.
Similarly, Dr Kapwell Omoni, Chairman of the Niger Delta Progressive Initiative, a pan Niger Delta group p, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his choice of Dokubo as Special Adviser on Niger Delta.
He said Dokubo’s recent meeting with the leadership of ex-agitators in the Niger Delta was a sign of good tidings in the region.
“We are now optimistic that our dream of sustainable peace and development in the near future will soon be realized.
“It Shows his commitment towards this course, and we pledge our support to the Federal Government in this new drive to reposition the Presidential Amnesty Programme,’’ he said.
In a related development, Dokubo had in a consultative meeting with members of the executive committee of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) urged leaders and elders of the Niger Delta not to pursue individual interests.
“But avail him advice and guidance that would benefit the people of the region.’’
Dokubo, who noted that issues of the Niger Delta were being addressed, described the amnesty programme as work in progress.
“Without peace, there will be no development, and without development, there will be no peace.
“For me, that is a cardinal thing. The Niger Delta has gone through difficult period; agitations over marginalization and the fight for redress of the situation.
“I believe that we have started redressing the situation. This policy did not start with me; it has been there for sometime before I took over office,’’ he noted.
The coordinator pledged to drive in a new direction; a direction that would be influenced by meetings with people that were better exposed to the situation here.
He said “if we fail our people, then we fail for everything. If we don’t empower our people, stabilize their lifestyles, then, I believe that we will only be playing catch-up.
“And for effective development, there is need to retrain the minds of our people. It is not only about stipends, but the quality of life for the Niger Delta people,’’ Dokubo said.