By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
A group of ex -militants’ leaders from the nine states of the Niger Delta under the first phase of the Presidential Amnesty Programme at the weekend declared their support for some positive changes under the Prof. Charles Dokubo-led leadership of the amnesty programme.
The former warlords have however, cautioned against the planned recall of some beneficiaries of the scholarship under the amnesty initiative, stressing that it was not in the best interest of the youths of the region.
They urged Dokubo to reconsider the plan, noting that “the decision should be rescinded and the programme implemented to accommodate all students as they are all from Niger Delta, regardless of the suspicion that they were smuggled into the scheme.
“These are scholarship beneficiaries from Nigeria Delta communities that were impacted in one way or the other by the contentious issues in the region,” the ex-militants said.
The leaders of the groups from the nine states include: Ezekiel Akpasbowei, Henry Benedodoghe, Gravilla Egbela and Franklin Duduku.
Others who were at the meeting where the decisions were reached at the residence of Wilson Clifford known along the creeks as ‘Gen’ Pastor Reuben were Igwu Emeka, Nico Sintei, Chief Omoh Tonwerighe and Andrew Voko.
At the meeting, the former militants agreed that there was “a new lease of life and improved way” of handling the affairs of the amnesty programme since the coming of the new boss, stating however, that Dokubo must work closely with the leaders of the ex-militants’ groups to sustain the current peace in the region.
“We, the ex-agitators also want the coordinator to lend a listening ear to the voices of leaders of the militants on the best ways to handle issues of amnesty, particularly on their welfare,” the ex-militants said .
The ex-militant leaders also urged the coordinator to intervene and prevail on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to assist in the needed development of the region.
Explaining the decision to pass a vote of confidence on Dokubo, the group said it was based on his new style of leadership that has injected new life into the activities of the amnesty office.
“We have thrown our support behind the recent leadership of the amnesty office and as such we note that the new leadership has brought a new lease of life and quality to bear in the handling of the affairs of the programme,” they said.
The ex-militants leaders urged politicians to desist from igniting unnecessary fire in the region thereby halting economic activities to the detriment of the entire country.