The Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Colonel Milland Dixon Dikio, Retd, says the era of servicing contractors and their cronies are gone for good.
He said that the PAP will no longer patronize contractors at the expense of the real owners of the programme which are the ex-agitators, just as it will no longer fund the scholarship of students in areas that are not of comparative advantage to the region.
Dikio stated this on Friday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, during a parley with the leadership of the first phase of the PAP.
He decried the existing situation which allows contractors to gulp 85 per cent of the total funds accrued to the PAP, while those the programme was instituted for are left with the remaining fraction, which he lamented is hardly enough for training and empowering them.
His words: “The PAP will no longer be contractor-driven. We are not going to engage in tokenism. I am not going to award contracts or go into projects just for the heck of it. Never, I won’t. Rather I will focus on “train, mentor and employ”.
“That’s our new philosophy. The same applies to scholarship. The scholarship is a privilege and not a right. We will focus on training in those areas that we have a comparative advantage. Hence, rather than train our people as pilots where they will end up looking for non-existent jobs after undergoing such expensive training. I will rather train our people in the maritime area where we have natural, latent abilities”
“We are adopting the Igbo apprenticeship system – train, mentor and employ. It’s an end to end package. There is an outstanding 8,000 ex-agitators registered, captured in the amnesty programme that are yet to receive training. Those 8,000 people are going to be our focus. We will also focus on those who have been trained and have not been empowered.
“For the rest 22,000 who have been trained and empowered, the question I often ask is where are they? How can you claim to have trained such a huge number of persons and yet the impact is not felt in the region.”
Dikio reiterated that the PAP under his leadership is redirecting the focus of the program to achieve more for the region, and called on all stakeholders to join him to achieve the ideal model for the program.
“Towards this end, I am determined to work with all committed stakeholders to refocus the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) to its original mandate of development and security in the Niger Delta”, he said.
He took time to explain the Niger Delta Recovery Plan to the first phase leadership, saying 11 years after the proclamation of the Amnesty Programme, there is a need to re-examine the programme in light of current realities.
He also seized the opportunity to share the four cardinal pillars of his mission/goals for the PAP and called for cooperation with relevant agencies set up by the Federal Government like the Ministry of Niger Delta, NDDC and Ministry of Petroleum to compliment the efforts of the Amnesty Programme to ensure robust development and security of the Niger Delta.
Dikio hinted that “we live in a federation of moving parts and it’s important that we need to re-order our strategies to make ourselves relevant in the scheme of things.
“The PAP programme will go nowhere if these other agencies of government fail to play their roles. That’s why we are collaborating with all of these agencies and I am happy to report that some of these agencies have appointed key Liaison Officers to work with us.
“Our region is blessed beyond oil and gas, so there is a need for us to come together to support businesses in the region to grow by meaningfully engaging and empowering our youths to become employers of labour and net contributors to the economic prosperity of the Niger Delta” he stated.
In his remarks, Speaker of the Bayelsa State of House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abraham Ingobere, who attended the meeting as a member of the first phase leadership, applauded the Interim Administrator for his focused leadership since his assumption of office.
He said the prompt payment of monthly stipends to ex-agitators is one effort of Dikio that deserves to be commended, stressing that the beneficiaries are happier for it.
He pleaded with Dikio to support and assist those who are leaders and desirous to be key players in the oil and gas sector, stressing that the amnesty office can also support them to own fishing trawlers and vessels.
Some of the notable first phase leaders who attended the meeting were; Pastor Rueben, Paul Eris also known as Ogunboss, Joshua Macaiver, Felix Bonny-Ayah, a lawmaker in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, amongst others.