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Opinion: “Amnesty programme: Dokubo’s magic wand”

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

Niger Delta New Vision birthed take-off of Maritime University, development projects in region – Osinbajo

Speech by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the 1st Matriculation Ceremony of The Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, on Saturday, 6th April, 2019

(Delivered by Mr. Edobor Iyamu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Economic Matters/Niger Delta, Office of the Vice President)

Protocol

I bring very warm greetings from His Excellency Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, on whose behalf I’m standing here before you today.

Hearty congratulations to the management and staff of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko Delta State, on the commemoration of this milestone occasion, the inaugural matriculation ceremony. Congratulations also to all of the matriculating students. As the pioneer set of students of this landmark institution, you are all standing on the threshold of history, and we rejoice with you.

This is a day that we have long awaited and looked forward to, and I am delighted that it has come, and we are here to witness it. A year ago, on the 12th of April 2018, to be precise, this University commenced academic activities, with a total of 370 students spread across 13 undergraduate programmes in three Faculties, namely: Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management.

In addition, there were 85 students admitted into the University’s Basic programme. They sat for the JAMB examinations, and the 59 who were successful were given admission into the University.

This University is one of the strongest demonstrations yet of the total and unflinching commitment of the Buhari Administration to the development and the progress of the Niger Delta. The President is a man of his word, and he has made that clear over and over again with regards to the Niger Delta, in the last four years.

You will recall that he touched on the issue of the Delta in his inauguration Speech on May 29, 2015. It was a measure of his determination to rewrite the story of a neglected region. People had come before him and paid lip service to the issues. You are all witnesses to how the Ogoni Clean-up failed to leave the drawing board.

The seriousness with which we view the Niger Delta informed the series of unprecedented engagements that resulted in the comprehensive development Plan known as the New Vision for the Niger Delta; with the goal of ensuring that the huge resources of the Delta are put to work for the good of the people of the region.

That New Vision has guided us every step of the way, and is what has helped propel the Ogoni Clean Up to fruition, and helped birth this University in which we are gathered today.

Since 2016, when the Buhari Administration flagged off the Clean Up of Ogoni land, we have seen actual implementation and progress. As I speak, 21 companies have been awarded remediation contracts, and 15% of the contract sum released by way of mobilisation fee. Some of the contractors have since commenced work on the affected sites, and others are currently mobilising to site. This award of contracts followed a very open and transparent international procurement process, as well as the laying down of a robust governance and oversight framework for the Clean Up. And while the remediation is ongoing, there are also a lot of efforts aimed at ensuring that affected communities enjoy basic amenities like clean water, and that jobs and training opportunities are extended to them.

Our Modular Refinery Programme is another important cornerstone of the New Vision for the Niger Delta. There are currently four modular refineries at different levels of completion, across the region, as follows:

  • Niger Delta Exploration & Production situated Rivers State
  • Opac Modular Refinery situated here in Delta
  • Ikwe-Onna situated in Akwa-Ibom
  • Walter Smith in Imo State

One of them, the Niger Delta Exploration & Production is a brownfield project that is being expanded by 5,000bpd in the first phase. That expansion is now about 98% completed and will commence test-running from the 16th of April, 2019. The remaining three are greenfield projects and are all scheduled for commissioning this year.

The Amnesty Programme has continued to receive funding and support from the Buhari Administration, because we understand just how important it is for the young people of the region. We will continue to ensure that it delivers on its mandate and responds fully to the needs and yearnings of the beneficiaries.

Permit me to also highlight our Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, aimed at ensuring that we bring an end to the tragedy that is gas-flaring in the Niger Delta. The impact of this is going to be enormous, not just in terms of health and the environment, but also in terms of economic opportunities. The successful bidders for the gas flare sites will be expected to create economic value from the gas hitherto being flared, and this will create jobs and wealth for citizens and for communities. Adverts for the commercialisation of the flare sites have already gone out and submissions of Expression of Interest are being received.  The next stage will be the shortlisting and award of concessions to the successful bidders.

These and more are examples of how we are walking the talk in the Niger Delta region, which we view not in terms of its past, but in terms of its potential. And this is a potential that is not limited to oil and gas, but is actually focused more on the development of human capital. We are confident that the Niger Delta will sooner than later come to be defined, not by crude oil, but by the quality of its human resource, the abundance of its agriculture, its rich cultural potential, and so on.

We have a vision that the Maritime University will come to be known around the world as a Center of Excellence in Maritime matters, and a repository of expertise and knowledge on the Niger Delta.

For all the matriculating students, and the pioneer staff, you can see why you have a great burden and responsibility on your shoulders. I enjoin you to discharge these with dedication and pride, and to continue to carry yourselves as excellent ambassadors of this University.

Once again, I congratulate you on this auspicious occasion, and I wish you the very best for the future.

God bless the Maritime University, God Bless the Niger Delta, and God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you.

 

Editor’s note: The Vice President was represented at the event by Mr. Edobor Iyamu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Economic Matters/Niger Delta, Office of the Vice President

Amnesty Programme catering to the needs of ex-agitators in Niger Delta, says group

*Lauds appointment of Dokubo

A group, the Forum for the Advancement and Upliftment of the Niger Delta (FAUND), has lauded the Presidential Amnesty Programme, which it said is fulfilling its key mandate of catering to the needs and aspirations of ex-agitators in the Niger Delta.

In a statement signed by FAUND President, Nimitein Oyibo, the group also commended the Federal Government and the President Muhammadu Buhari for the appointment of Professor Charles Quaker Dokubo as Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).

It also described Dokubo’s appointment as a step in the right direction for the development of the Niger Delta.

“As a leading Niger Delta stakeholder and renowned academic, Professor Dokubo has provided a new vehicle for the people of the Niger Delta to feel first hand, the gains of the Buhari presidency with respect to plans and programmes designed for the advancement of the lives of the people of the Niger Delta,” the statement read.

It further stated that less than 6 months into Dokubo’s tenure as Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, “the programme has been returned to its cardinal mandate of catering to the needs and aspirations of ex-agitators in the Niger Delta who have chosen the path of peace, stability and progress.”

According to the statement, “The Reintegration of the thousands of young men who laid down their arms in the Niger Delta has been moved into new gear with new enthusiasm and commitment.

“Entitlements to these young lads are now being paid on time and empowerment programmes have been greatly reconfigured to ensure that the beneficiaries are equipped with the knowledge, skillset and tools they require to live productive lives.”

The statement added that, “At a time when political players and stakeholders in the Niger Delta have become so divisive and offensive, we commend the foresight of the Buhari government in the appointment of a leading technocrat, academic and progressive to the very sensitive role and position.

“Prof. Dokubo’s humaneness, humility, sense of purpose and commitment to the advancement of the Niger Delta has in so small way, helped to mold the conscience and consciousness of hundreds of thousands of Niger Deltans scattered across the 9 states of the Niger Delta.

“Since his appointment as Coordinator of PAP, Prof. Dokubo, a professor of International Diplomacy, War, Defence and Peace Studies, has won new friends and followers for President Buhari in the Niger Delta than all other political leaders in the Niger Delta.

“We call on all people of the Niger Delta to support the efforts of Prof. Dokubo in fixing the Presidential Amnesty Programme in order that it can be returned to the mandate for which it was set up for. The era of reckless petition writing aided and abetted by disgruntled contractors and stakeholders should come to an end. The advancement and upliftment of the Niger Delta must be the concern of everyone.”

Dokubo gives ex-agitators assurance on welfare

The Special Adviser to the President and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Charles Quaker Dokubo, recently confirmed prompt payment of monthly stipends as well as provision of other welfare packages for the ex-Niger Delta agitators and their leaders. 

Dokubo who disclosed this in a meeting in Abuja on Saturday with the ex-agitators noted that this was essential for maintaining peace in the region. Daily Trust revealed that the PAP coordinator vowed to breathe in fresh air into the programme to enable its benefits reach out to those it was originally intended for.

Speaking further, the PAP coordinator beckoned on the leaders of ex-agitators not to promote parochial interests, but to work with the Federal Government in the interest of the Niger Delta people by striving to sustain the goals of the Programme.

 “Let us do particular projects in the Niger Delta that will live after us; let us not go into pipeline busting, because these pipelines are located in our region where the environmental impact would be felt. But your complaints on issues of documentation and others will be looked into,” Dokubo said.