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A chieftain of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella group of traditional rulers, leaders and stakeholders of Niger Delta region, Chief Mike Loyibo, has revealed why those he described as “amnesty merchants” and “blackmailers” were after the new Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Prof Charles Dokubo.
Loyibo, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard in an interview, said: “As a critical stakeholder in the Niger Delta sustainable development project, I got worried by the avalanche of petitions from some individuals and groups of persons who claim to be the “owners” of the Niger Delta or the south-south against the current Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, boss, Prof Charles Dokubo, who assumed office barely three months ago.”
“One unique feature of these recent petitions is the height of childishness demonstrated by these “blackmailers” and “amnesty merchants,” who could go to the extent of questioning why Prof Charles in spite of his experience in other jobs and intimidating credentials should be putting on designer shoes and other expensive clothes and also visiting expensive restaurants.
“The truth of the matter is that Prof Charles inherited a lot of mess in the Amnesty office and needed to be more cautious because of what befell his predecessor, Brig Gen Paul Boroh (retd) so he adopted a new style with a clear spirit of accountability and transparency in dealing directly with the real beneficiaries and designing programmes that will directly impact upon the lives and environment of the Niger Delta region in line with the objectives for which the amnesty programme was established.
“So, it is not business-as-usual, that is why the so-called aggrieved ex-agitators and self-seeking middlemen have resorted to petition writing to attract unnecessary public attention and distract Prof Charles Dokubo from hitting the ground running and executing projects and programmes that will be of benefit to the region,” he said.
The activist said: “I therefore urge the National Security Adviser, NSA and the Presidency to ignore these crises merchants whose inordinate ambition is clouded in selfishness. Paying attention to these petitions is another way of celebrating these unserious distractors and encouraging those who think that nothing works unless they are deeply involved.”
Those who battled Boroh after Dokubo
According to him: “The Pull-Him-Down, PHD, syndrome is generally associated with material poverty and poverty of the mind and thrives in places where due diligence and principle of hard work are ignored. Some will call it a Nigerian factor because it is everywhere in this country but I think it has become a common feature in recent times among Niger Delta politicians and businessmen, who have suddenly jettisoned our core cultural values of social solidarity expressed in dictum like ‘I am because we are’.
“Boroh and many others were pulled down for issues that to the best of my knowledge were highly magnified. It is also worrisome to note that the same persons who called for the sack of Boroh and the appointment of Prof Dokubo are the same people calling for his investigation. So it is a profitable trade-in-stock for this class of people and the time to stop patronizing them is long overdue.
Amnesty money ended in private pockets
His words: “It is public knowledge that monies allocated to and disbursed for the various amnesty programmes in the past ended in private pockets. Prof Charles Dokubo on assumption of duty declared publicly that he was not here to satisfy everyone’s wishes, but to refocus the amnesty programme for sustainable development of the Niger Delta. As a professor of human resource and conflict management and a seasoned administrator, he had decided to make a credible and positive change with the manner things are handled in the amnesty office in line with the mandate of his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, so to some extent I can say it is corruption that is fighting back.”
He, however, stated that worried by this sad development, “several eminent personalities within and outside the Niger Delta have expressed concern over the ugly trend and upon very careful assessment of the situation, decided to throw their weight behind Prof Charles Dokubo to enable him succeed in this assignment as the Amnesty boss.”
“I am aware that recently, a group of elders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders, under the aegis of Niger Delta Leaders and Elders Stakeholders Forum, met in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State under the chairmanship of Justice F.F Tabai, a retired Supreme Court Judge to discuss the state of the nation in general and also assess developments in the Niger Delta and the state of the amnesty programme.
“They passed a vote of confidence on Prof Charles Dokubo and also advised that the petitioners and the frivolous petitions should be discountenanced, so that Prof Charles Dokubo and the presidency should focus their attention on developing the Niger delta in order to bring lasting peace to the region.
“I can emphatically tell you that Charles Dokubo is enjoying the unflinching support of the elders, leaders and youths of the Niger Delta who believe in positive change, both in handling the affairs of the amnesty office and the general progress and development of the region. These elders, leaders and youths have also vowed to resist any attempt by these enemies of progress to distract or thwart the genuine efforts of Prof Charles Dokubo and the present Buhari administration in addressing the lingering crises of the Niger Delta region,” Loyibo added.
FG jeopardizing N’Delta peace
Commenting on the seeming delay by the Federal Government in implementing the 16-point demand of the Pan Niger Delta Conference, PANDEF, he said: “I was part of the PANDEF delegation that handed over the 16-point agenda to Mr President about two years ago. It is on record that as a follow-up, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President, embarked on a tour / town hall meeting in some cities in the Niger Delta region where he promised to implement the recommendations in the 16-point agenda.”
“I can recall that the vice president was empathic on directing the multinational corporations to relocate to their operational bases in the Niger delta region, the commencement of the modular refineries project, completion of the East-West road and returning wealth to the Niger Delta region. It is therefore very true that though not unmindful of the commencement of the Maritime university and the sustenance of the amnesty programme, that not much has been achieved, using the 16-point agenda as our yardstick.
“So Chief Edwin Clark, our leader is very correct when he warned recently that time was running out, and so are very many others, who are concerned about the peace and development of the region because the basis for which various ceasefire agreements were reached with the various militant groups has been compromised with no positive reactions coming from the Federal Government.
“As a leader, I will continue to encourage our people to be patient believing that the President who has genuine love for the region will in no distant time, begin to address the myriad of demands and challenges of the region. I want to also join all well meaning Niger Deltans in condemning the National Assembly for reducing the budgetary allocation for the Maritime University, the East-West road and other critical infrastructure in the region.
“It is unfortunate that at a time that the region needed more we are facing a reduction. I also want to call on all Niger Deltans and Nigerians to challenge the executive bill on water resources because it is clearly anachronistic particularly at a time when the clamour for resource control has become popular in our body polity.
Okowa should not undermine Ijaw
Appraising the impact of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa government in Delta state, he said: “Considering the overwhelming support and votes which the Ijaw communities, which are mostly in the riverine areas gave to Governor Okowa during the 2015 elections and thereafter, I will not totally disagree with the critics who say Okowa has not done enough for these communities.
“Some critics have also made comparison in terms of the budgetary allocation to the Ijaw communities compared to what is made for the upland communities. However, as demonstrated during the recent town hall meetings / electioneering campaigns accompanied with commissioning of projects in the Ijaw communities, appointment of our son as deputy governor and sons and daughters of the area into notable positions, such as Chief of Staff to the State Government, commissioners, special assistants and several special assistants, senior special assistants, SA’s and SSAs, one will want to say that Okowa is trying for our people.
“The Ijaw people in these riverine communities love him so much because he is a grassroots politician, who is truly committed to addressing their challenges and so have promised to support him in 2019. I want to plead with Governor Okowa not to take the Ijaw people for granted for the overwhelming support and solidarity he has earned from them, rather he should redouble his effort in translating this support into positive development,” he added.