By Prince Okafor
Lagos—Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Professor Charles Dokubo, has called on the people of Niger Delta to utilize the programme and empower themselves, stating that, if not properly followed, it will cause the demise of the region.
Dokubo, made this call Wednesday, in Lagos at a stakeholders meeting with selected leaders of the Niger Delta.
According to him, “If we do not use this Amnesty Programme to empower ourselves, it will eventually kill us. The benefit is for the Niger Delta people. Some persons wants to be permanent Amnesty holder. We have fought very hard for this, we will not let them misuse this opportunity.
“I am not saying that the situation has attained perfection or Eldorado of sorts, I am only saying that the situation would have been far worse in the region and of course for the economy of our dear country.
“I have since found out that the situation got so bad that on a particular day in 2008, Nigeria was only able to produce 700,000 barrels of crude oil.
“Today, owing to the success of the amnesty programme, Nigeria is now able to meet its current OPEC quota of 2.2 million barrels per day. We must all thank the ex-agitators in Niger Delta who have continued to keep the peace in accordance with the pact they entered with the Federal government after accepting the offer of amnesty.
“What we generally regard as the Amnesty Programme today is just one component, that is the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, DDR, aspect of a four pronged package that originally constituted the Presidential Amnesty Programme as conceived between the late 2009 and early 2010.
“The amnesty office that I inherited is saddled with only one component of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, which is the DDR of 30,000 ex-agitators enlisted in the Amnesty programme.”
“Before I assumed office, the disarmament and demobilisation of the ex-agitators had been completed in three phases. I am however, privileged to continue with the very critical reintegration phase of the programme.
“The reintegration phase largely entails providing the ex-agitators with either vocational training or formal education. Of course, there is also the re-insertion part of reintegration, which entails adding processes of returning already trained ex-agitators to civil society. The quickest way to achieve this is through provision of jobs to already trained delegates.
“I constituted a committee to go through the handover note and departmental briefs that I received from my predecessor with a view to sculpting a work plan to retool the programme and make it more impactful to the direct beneficiaries, the ex-agitators and the NigerIGER Delta at large.
“Out of the 30,000 persons enlisted in the presidential Amnesty Programme, 11,297 persons are still in the queue, waiting to be placed in either vocational training facilities or sent to tertiary institutions for formal education.
“The committee I cannot say that the Niger Delta people are lazy but there is a sense of entitlement that has sneaked into our wellbeing which is dangerous for us that is why there are incentives to correct this loopholes.
“My work is about reintegration, there are a lots of people that have not been reintegrated into the program that is my key job to bring in people so that they can get skilled required and get jobs.
” I have appointed people who are good in data and I believe that they are going to do the best and by next month they will remove all those that are not part of the data.”