Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs (SAPND) and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Prof. Charles Quaker Dokubo, has urged leaders and elders of the Niger Delta not to pursue individual interests, but offer him valuable advice and guidance capable of benefiting the people of the region.
The challenges of the Niger Delta, Dokubo noted, were being addressed, describing the amnesty programme as work in progress.
He spoke yesterday in Abuja when members of the national executive committee of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), paid him a courtesy visit in his office.
The presidential aide stated that it was time for Niger Deltans to put things in order and do the needful.
A statement issued by his Special Assistant (Media), Mr. Murphy Ganagana, quoted Dokubo as saying: â€œWeâ€™ve questioned authority, weâ€™ve questioned governance; and now, we also have the time to set our house in order; to do the things that we are supposed to do.
â€œI believe that with the powerful organisation that has come to my office and the guidance you are going to give me; guidance that will only benefit our Niger Delta people, guidance that is not supposed to benefit individuals, but our people, I believe we shall be on course,â€ he added.
While expressing his determination to chart a new direction for the amnesty programme, Dokubo harped on the need for qualitative training that would give jobs to beneficiaries. He said this was the panacea to sustainable peace in the region.
â€œWithout peace, there will be no development, and without development, there will be no peace. For me, that is a cardinal thing. The Niger Delta has gone through difficult period; agitations over marginalisation and the fight for redress of the situation.
â€œ I believe that we have started redressing the situation. This policy did not start with me; it has been there for sometime before I took over office. And what I have to do is to drive a new direction; a direction that has been influenced by meetings with people that are better exposed to the situation here,â€ he said.
He said with the cooperation and support of PANDEF and other stakeholders in the Niger Delta region, he would achieve his set objectives.
â€œI strongly believe that with your support and guidance, this new task that I have set out for myself would be pursued. I was not just appointed because I am a Nigerian; I was appointed because I am from the Niger Delta region. And it was not because I had the best of credentials and all that, but because I believe in what the Niger Delta is.
â€œIf we fail our people, then we fail for everything. If we donâ€™t empower our people, stabilise their lifestyles, then, I believe that we will only be playing catch-up. That is why inasmuch as we look for development, there is need to retrain the minds of our people. It is not only about stipends, but the quality of life for the Niger Delta people.
â€œThere is also the issue of reintegration, which is very important. When you are dealing with post conflict situation where you have to review the institutions, review the standard of living and all that, itâ€™s a difficult issue. You cannot selectively adopt policies and other thingsâ€, Dokubo said.
Earlier, PANDEF National Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), attributed the peace in the Niger Delta to the amnesty initiative, which he said, was vital for development of the region.
He, however, enjoined the federal government to adequately fund the programme and ensure that participants are meaningfully engaged.