By Murphy Ganagana
A disarming smile is his trademark, a veritable asset that neutralizes the temperature of an environment he finds himself. For Prof. Charles Dokubo, coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, carrying a light heart creates a pleasant atmosphere for productivity to flourish and breed a fertile ground for fresh initiatives to actualize his vision for the Niger Delta.
Several years before his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2018, Dokubo had been quietly working behind the scene on finding a solution to the Niger Delta debacle, as he shared the pains of his kith and kin in Nigeria’s oil-rich region occasioned by environmental degradation, economic deprivation and abject poverty.
His expertise in dealing with regional and international conflict situations and resolution placed him on a vantage position in President Buhari’s determination to chart a new course for the Niger Delta region, and the privilege of being appointed coordinator of the Amnesty Programme provided him an opportunity to breathe a new lease of life into a people dying in installments of neglect and suffocation.
Dokubo is unwavering in actualizing President Buhari’s developmental vision for the Niger Delta with human capacity building as the focal point, using the instrumentality of the Amnesty Programme as a vehicle to achieve the objective. And he has cautiously steered the wheel on full throttle, recording landmark achievements in a year and five months.
Within a short period, he was able to not only complete, equip and activate the Oil and Gas Vocational Training Centre at Agadagba-Obon, Ondo State, but also commissioned the Basic Skills Vocational Training Centre at Boro Town, Bayelsa State. The Power and Energy Vocational Training Centre located at Bomadi, Delta State, is almost set to come on stream while work is ongoing at the Agricultural Vocational Training Centre in Gelegele, Edo State, where he performed the foundation laying ceremony on Friday, February 15.
Also dear to Dokubo’s heart in his effort to fast-track training of beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme, is the Maritime Vocational Training Centre at Oboama, Rivers State. This is apart from the establishment of a liaison office for the Presidential Amnesty Programme in Port Harcourt, the state capital, as a pilot project in his plan to locate liaison offices across all states in the Niger Delta to ease interface with beneficiaries of the programme.
In the next few weeks, 100 beneficiaries of the Programme will resume training at the Oil and Gas Training Centre at Agadagba-Obon, just as six others who had been trained in aviation and obtained their commercial pilot licenses are scheduled to undergo further training in Florida, USA, for their type-rating.
Under Dokubo’s watch, 1, 601 beneficiaries have completed training in various skills out of 4, 014 allocated to specialized training vendors, while 1,271 already trained beneficiaries have been given empowerment packs in their respective trade areas to enable them start business. The empowered beneficiaries are among 4,269 scheduled for engagement on completion of their training in various vocational skills.
While those trained acquired skills in fish and poultry farming; Greenhouse farming; tailoring and fashion design, mechanized rice farming and agribusiness; transformer repair/maintenance; pig farming, automobile, aquaculture and snail farming; shoe making/leather works, and ICT, among others, the empowered beneficiaries were on building materials, fish farming, poultry, welding, pig farming, plastic technology, electronic stores, cassava farming, commodity shop, and feed sales. The aggressive empowerment drive for beneficiaries drawn from all states in the Niger Delta is the result of efforts by Dokubo towards ensuring that already trained beneficiaries were fully engaged to fast-track development and deepen peace in the region.
Unfortunately, his uncommon leadership style and amazing achievements propelled by a commitment towards rewriting the sad narrative of the Niger Delta is discomforting for some self-acclaimed leaders of the region who had fed fat on the Amnesty Programme, and he has been at the receiving end of poisonous missiles aimed at dislocating him.
To be sure, Dokubo’s detractors are unrelenting in their efforts at throwing a spanner in the works for his effrontery in arresting the smooth flow of a food basket they had deliberately bled to swell their pockets. That sinister objective explains some fake news, fairy tales and vicious attacks on the person of Dokubo and the Amnesty Programme, with intent to blur his vision for the Niger Delta, break his spirit, and make him recoil into his shell. They’ve failed woefully.
Dokubo’s passion for development of the Niger Delta is fired by affinity to a common history and destiny, and his burning desire to make positive change cannot be extinguished. His magic wand used in turning around the Amnesty Programme and deepening peace in the hitherto restive region has earned him resounding applause and overwhelming support from the leaders of Niger Delta ex-agitators, royal fathers, community leaders and stakeholders.
It is heartwarming that even as his enemies who are blind to the reality on ground are resolute in their evil machinations, well-meaning Niger Deltans appreciate and have supported him in good conscience. The message is that Dokubo’s presence at the Amnesty Programme is divine, and those bent on pulling him down should not test the will of God. Dokubo is simply doing his bit in oiling the wheel of peace, security and development in the Niger Delta region and by extension, Nigeria. He needs to be encouraged.
Ganagana is Special Assistant (Media) to the Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme