The appointment of Professor Charles Quaker Dokubo as the new Special Adviser/ Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme by President Muhammadu Buhari is one appointment critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta applauded. Dokubo being one of those who were in the forefront of the agitations for a better deal for the Niger Delta region, in his short, but eventful stay in office has started yielding the desired results which is giving a new sense of hope to the Amnesty Office, its beneficiaries as well as stakeholders.
Stakeholders in the region believe that the choice of Dokubo for the job, couldn’t have come at a better time, having been involved in drawing up master plan for the development of the oil rich Niger Delta, hence he is eminently qualified to refocus and reposition the programme to become more impactful in order to meet needs and aspirations of the Niger Delta. Dokubo being aware of the pains, challenges and expectation of the people of the Niger Delta was very prepare and equipped for the job, backed by sound academic qualification, with many research work and papers in on the Niger Delta question and been part of the drafter of the templates for resolving the issues, placed him in a good stand in to take the programme to the next level.
Dokubo holds a Masters Degree in Peace Studies and a Doctoral Degree in Nuclear Weapon Proliferation and its control from the University of Bradford, started as lecturer and became Director of Research and Studies at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). In addition, he has published extensively and carried out research in the area of nuclear proliferation, conflict resolution and other areas related to strategic analysis.
Thus, his academic background and exposure which are related to issues of Niger Delta region adequately equipped him to drive the very critical reintegration of the thousands of ex-agitators in the Niger Delta who have already been disarmed and demobilized under a structured Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Programme.
Before he assumed office, the disarmament and demobilisation of the ex-agitators had been completed in three phases. He, however, was privileged to continue with the very critical Reintegration phase of the programme which largely entails providing the ex-agitators with either vocational training or formal education. Of course, there is also the re-insertion part of reintegration, which entails adding processes of returning already trained ex-agitators to civil society. He has started tackling issue of employment for the already trained delegates in the quickest way through provision of jobs for them and the exercise is ongoing.
As expected, on assuming office, Dokubo in urgent need of recalibrate and reboot the Presidential Amnesty Programme inaugurated an Amnesty Review Committee to produce a blue print on how to deepen peace, safety and security in the Niger Delta using the instrumentalities of the Presidential Amnesty Programme for former agitators in the region.
The review committee is comprised of four senior officials from the Amnesty Office and four experts carefully selected from outside of the office is saddled with the task of reviewing all contracts awarded by the Amnesty Office since 2015 with a view to determine the levels of work done, monies paid, beneficiaries and extent of work done so far, recommend a payment schedule for those qualified to be paid and determine the current status of all the Vocational Training Centers built or are still under construction across the states in the Niger Delta.
In an effort to uncover the depth of rot in the amnesty programme, he urged the committee to ascertain the current status of the database of the Amnesty Office with a view to determining its certainty and sanctity of the current status of all on-going vocational, educational and post-training empowerment programmes of the office within the country and offshore, The committee is equally saddled with responsibility to undertake an assessment of the current relationship between the Amnesty Office and the Presidential Amnesty Programme’s critical stakeholders with a view to suggesting ways of making the relationships even more robust.
Such suggestions include enhancement, empowerment and also setting up clusters of farms and other training centres to encourage people of the region and equally make hem creators of wealth. Being a listening leader and in line with ongoing retooling programme, the Professor also embarked on series of consultative meetings with critical stakeholders. The idea is to hear directly from the beneficiaries of the programme on how to make it more effective and much more impactful. This no doubt assisted in reposition the Agency.
Thus, despite inheriting a liability reported to be in the region of over N7 billion, the new coordinator has been able to fast track payments of the monthly stipends and backlogs of in-training allowances to beneficiaries of the programme in educational and vocational institutions in Nigeria and outside the country.
His commitment and achievements he made in a short time of resuming office were subsequently noted by the coalition of ex- agitators and stakeholders in the Niger Delta who applauded him for his commitment to peace building in the region.
According to them, “We are happy that today, we have an amnesty coordinator whose commitment to resolving the Niger Delta crisis is second to none. Within the short period that he has been in office, he has settled all outstanding allowances owed to ex-agitators.”
Thus, the aforementioned proposals and achievements of Dokubo open the way for peace which resulted in enabling business environment in the Niger Delta Region and increase of production of crude oil in accordance to OPEC requirement.
Consequently, the success of the presidential Amnesty programme in the Niger Delta region under the leadership of Dokubo has resulted in Nigeria being able to meet her OPEC quota of 2.2 million barrel crude oil per day compare to the production of 700,000 barrels of crude oil produced some months past. We must give kudos to the new Amnesty boss.
*Agbajoh writes from Abuja