Former President Goodluck Jonathan has admonished the new interim administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Milland Dikio, to give priority to the sustenance of human capital development in the region in line with the objectives of the programme.
He made the call over the weekend when he hosted Mr Dikio on a courtesy visit which the latter described as the commencement of consultative meetings with critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta following his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari last week.
This was contained in a statement by the Director of Information of the programme, Dibiaezue-Eke Florence.
Mr Dikio, a retired army colonel, was named coordinator of the Amnesty Programme following the sack of Charles Dokubo in August.
Introduced by former president, Umaru Yar’Adua, the Amnesty Programme involves training in various fields and payment of stipend to former militants in the Niger Delta.
The programme has been enmeshed in allegations of corruption since inception which has led to the exit of the programme’s past leaders.
This has also generated debates over the years as to whether the programme should be scrapped or not.
In his remarks, Mr Jonathan advised Mr Dikio to ensure that the scholarships for degree programmes within and outside the country alongside payment of monthly stipends to beneficiaries of the programme are given the deserved priority.
He also urged the new leader of the programme to avoid the temptation of taking on responsibilities beyond the funding capacity of the Office.
“One thing I should tell you also is that you should not bite more than you can chew as the saying goes. You should accommodate the projects which you think you can effectively carry out with your budget.”
”If 70 per cent of funds budgeted for the two agencies were utilised for the intended purposes, the Niger Delta region would have been better,” he said.
On his part, Mr Dikio hailed the ex-president for his role as the first Nigerian president from the Niger Delta and midwifing the entire amnesty process as the then vice president to the late Yar’Adua.
His vision, he said, was to restore and actualise the objectives that inspired the establishment of the amnesty programme through effective collaborative efforts with relevant government agencies, state governments and other stakeholders to achieve enhanced security for economic prosperity in the country.
“Consistent with the strategic objectives of the federal government, I am determined to work with all committed stakeholders to refocus the PAP
to its original mandate of development and security in the Niger Delta.”
He highlighted priority areas of his vision to include:
“Restoration of the mandate of the Amnesty Programme to its original intent and taking service to the Niger Delta where the ex-agitators are domiciled.
“Train the ex-agitators to become entrepreneurs who will act as agents of change thus reversing the narrative of a people dependent on stipends to self-actualized employers of labour and net contributors to the economic prosperity of the Niger Delta region.
“Coordinate and cooperate with relevant agencies set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria to complement the efforts of the amnesty programme to ensure the development and security of the Niger Delta making it the most secure place to live and do business in Nigeria.”