The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) for Ex-Niger Delta militants pledged in Yenagoa on Monday to prioritise the economic reintegration of the erstwhile agitators.
PAP’s Interim Administrator, retired Col. Millan Dikio, said the strategy was designed to transform the ex-militants to entrepreneurs to create wealth and drive development.
The pledge is contained in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Nneotaobase Egbe.
Dikio said in the statement that having laid the foundation of his vision in his first year in office, the time for action had come, to produce the desired result for the benefit of all.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on Oct. 14, Mr Femi Adesina, Spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, announced that the president had approved the reappointment of Dikio for another one year.
He stated that within one year in office, Dikio had consolidated his position as head of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
Speaking at separate meetings with leaders of first and third phases of the PAP in Uyo, Dikio said his quest to leave a strong legacy was driven by his passion for the development of the region.
He urged the ex-agitators to see beyond the N65,000 monthly stipends they were getting and grab economic opportunities around them.
“Within the short time I have, we will change things for the better.
“That is why we have changed the model of training that you get to the Train-Employ-Mentor model.
“They are the kind of training that will make you self-sufficient and qualified to have a job that you will be paid far above the monthly stipend; trainings that will bring more value to you,’’ Dikio said.
The PAP Interim Administrator said that there were plans for a summit in Warri, Delta, where delegates would be taught how to grow and manage businesses, and also highlight the opportunities in the city and the region in general.
According to Dikio, Niger Delta remained the richest place in the country not because of oil and gas, but because of its natural endowments.
He listed the endowments as human capital, farm produce and fisheries waiting to be explored by willing hands.
“We have to be competitive in the water business and take advantage of the blue economy. The Niger Delta is blessed with a lot of opportunities and we need to take charge.
“We are organising a summit in Warri soon. Warri used to be the oil city with lots of activities, but now it has become like a ghost town.
“We want to highlight what the city has, its economic importance and also for entrepreneurial purpose. We have to do everything possible to bring back businesses to the region.
“I keep saying this, that if you are not providing service you can’t be rich. Once you have what you are offering and when you are able to take care of yourself, nobody can insult you,’’ he said.
Egbe’s statement quoted the leader of the first phase ex-agitators and National President of the Leadership, Peace, and Cultural Development Initiative, Pastor Reuben Wilson, as thanking Dikio for restoring ex-militants’ confidence in the PAP.
Wilson said in the past, the programme was managed like a personal estate with the beneficiaries grossly short-changed while others became billionaires, but with the coming of Dikio, “we now have hope because of the new vision.’’
Also, National Chairman and Secretary of the third phase, Tonye Bobo and Elaye Slaboh, said ex-militants had not gone on any protest in the last one year because of what Dikio had done to change their mind-sets.
Bobo said the ex-militants did not realise earlier that their regular street protests in the past was de-marketing the region and driving away businesses.
The ex-militant leaders requested leadership training and empowerment, education and vocational training, and the setting up of a PAP liaison office in Bayelsa. (NAN)