Port Harcourt — Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo says plans are underway for leaders of Niger Delta ex-agitators to be enrolled in leadership training within the country or abroad, for effective coordination of their followers.
Dokubo at a meeting with 170 leaders of ex-agitators enlisted in Phase Three of the Amnesty Programme, urged the ex-agitators to set aside violence and work in harmony to deepen peace in the Niger Delta region towards enhancing development.
He noted that leadership training for leaders of the ex-agitators was necessary to equip them with knowledge and skills on how to manage their followers and possibly empower them to undertake entrepreneurship initiatives that will positively impact on the Niger Delta.
“I have thought about leadership training and there was a time they sent people to South Africa. I told the Phase Two leaders I met here (Uyo), that we will design a programme for leadership training. If you don’t have training, how can you lead your people? It is not about stipends, it how you can acquire knowledge.
“This knowledge will not be confined to Amnesty, you can also get somewhere. So training is very essential; I will create a programme where leaders will go. I will get a list of all the leaders so that we can send them for training in batches. We can’t send all at the same time. It is for your own strength and leadership.”
The Amnesty boss frowned the confrontational approach and protests by ex-agitators in seeking attention to issues bothering them rather than availing themselves of the official platforms in channelling complaints, emphasizing his vision and objective.
Dokubo urged leaders of ex-agitators in Phase Three of the Amnesty Programme to present their complaints officially in an organized manner rather than travelling in large numbers to the Amnesty office in Abuja without invitation or prior notice and thereafter make unrealistic monetary demands for logistics.
“There are ways of addressing issues. Amnesty means that you have given up violence and you have adopted a peace-making process to resolve issues that afflict our people. That’s what it is. So, somebody who has laid down his arms should not even resort to conflict again because you have accepted the rule of the Federal Government.
“So please, let us know how to get what you want to pursue from this programme; let us set aside violence. My goal here is to bring peace and also enhance human capital development”.
While giving assurance of prompt payment of monthly stipends and other entitlements to beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme, Dokubo said he had no hand in cases of alleged missing slots or exclusion of beneficiaries from the Programme, but had diligently made payments based on available official records since his assumption of office.
“The government can only look at what they have and what they can spend. Anything that is lawful, I, Charles Dokubo, will do it. Anything that is part of this programme, I will not remove it; I will carry it out thoroughly. For me, the most important thing is the maintenance of peace in our area.
“The money they gave us to pay stipends is fixed; that is why I always tell people, I don’t have the right to include any person or exclude. If you are in the programme, you are in the programme and if somebody wants to exclude you, I will not take it easy with that person because it will always create problems for the office.”
Speaking on behalf of participants at the meeting, National Secretary of the Forum of Phase Three Leaders of Ex-Niger Delta Agitators, Mr. Tam Odogwu, expressed optimism that the interactive sessions with critical stakeholders in Niger Delta initiated by Dokubo will deepen peace in the region.