The Ondo State Governor, Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), at the weekend appraised the performance of the Presidential Amnesty Programme under the leadership of Prof. Charles Dokubo and expressed conviction of a deep rooted commitment to the development of the Niger Delta.
Akeredolu spoke in Abuja when he paid a courtesy visit to Dokubo in his office.
He said the Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme has within a short period on the saddle, demonstrated a clear commitment to the objectives of the Programme.
He said: “Well, it is not the first time I have met him.
“Prof. Dokubo is someone from Niger Delta and he is committed to this programme (Amnesty); that, he has shown today.
“He has a personal commitment to everything that has to do with Niger Delta because he is one of them.
“So, I see that in him, and he has shown it.”
The governor, however, urged the Federal Government to continuously assess and review participation in the Amnesty Programme to provide a window of opportunity for more youths in the Niger Delta to be included in the interventionist programme.
He said the expansion of the scope of the Amnesty Programme to accommodate more persons will take away a lot of unrest in the Niger Delta region.
Akeredolu had visited Dokubo to solicit for the inclusion into the Presidential Amnesty Programme of some youths in Ondo State who had been disarmed and granted amnesty by the state government.
He said: “We are here to discuss matters that have to do with amnesty as they affect our people in Ondo State.
“The meeting went well and we are going to work on our decisions.
“I think a few things have been done by him (Dokubo), and from my discussion with him, there must be continuous assessment of this programme, at least, to be sure that people do not take advantage of it.
“If you have had opportunity to be trained or you have gone to school, then use the benefit for yourself; don’t deny others the opportunity to come into the scheme.
“If you have been to the university or you have been trained and you still want to be collecting money, don’t deny others the opportunity to come into the scheme; it cannot be unending that you think that the government has all the funds in this world to spend.
“People who have been trained should not be expected to be paid money.
“No, it is not right.
“I think that there must come a time where people who have completed the programme should exit so that others can come in and others who have not yet come in, there must be a way the programme can accommodate them, which is what we anchored our discussion on.
“The Federal Government should look into it in its entirety so that where there are people coming in, there should be budgetary provisions for them so that they can run this programme properly.
“So, if there is no money and there is no budget, there is no way that Dokubo will use his blood to run Amnesty; it is not possible.
“So I call on the Federal Government to look at this again so that when proposal papers are written from Amnesty, from the Coordinator, then the Federal Government can look into it urgently so that they can have more people who will participate in it; it will take away a lot of unrest in the Niger Delta and this is what we are working on.”
In his remarks, Dokubo, who expressed gratitude to the Ondo State governor for the visit, explained that inclusion of more persons into the programme is an exclusive preserve of the President.
He said unless there was a presidential proclamation to accommodate more persons into the Amnesty Programme alongside a budgetary expansion, he lacked the powers to take such decision.
Dokubo however expressed the willingness of the Amnesty Programme to train Niger Delta youths who are not beneficiaries of the programme at the world-class training facilities which he completed and activated, if state governments in the region were ready to pay monthly stipends of their delegates.
He said: “But if we have to involve non beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme in our trainings without payment of stipends, I will not be happy or willing to do so because that will be discriminatory.
“I can assist you with the training, but that means they will have to receive stipends from Ondo State government.”