Hundreds of women under the auspices of the Ijaw Youth Council, Women Wing embarked on a solidarity march on the streets on Abuja on Thursday in a show of support and appreciation for President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to the Presidential Amnesty Programme
They walked, sang, drummed and danced, commending President Buhari for appointing the Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, to deepen peace and security in the Niger Delta, thereby rekindling hope.
For sustainability, the women appealed to President Buhari for increased budgetary allocation and funding of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
They also requested the inclusion of more women in the programme and cautioned politicians they accused of sponsoring petitions and falsehoods against the Amnesty Office leadership to desist from destroying the good intentions of the Buhari administration.
Dokubo, while addressing them outside the premises of the Amnesty Office, said the doors of the Presidential Amnesty Programme would continue to be open for all Niger Delta people instead of just a few privileged godfathers and influential citizens in the past.
He said: “I am happy to meet you.
“You have surprised me beyond words can express.
“I wasn’t expecting you.
“I didn’t know that you would organize such a thing for me.
“What we want you to do as Ijaw people is to benefit from this programme.
“This programme is for all Niger Delta people.
“Nobody owns this programme.
“You’re the people that own this programme.
“This is programme should affect the life of every Niger Delta person: wherever you are.
“I don’t own the programme.
“If I am not doing the right thing, tell me.
“I will change.
“I am lost for words.
“I am one with you.
“This office will support every facet of Niger Delta lives.
“We are going to keep our doors opened to everybody.
“Whenever you come, I will listen to you.
“For you to have thought of me today, and be here, I am really grateful to you all.
“I know some of you need assistance; some need empowerment etc.
“And this Office’s empowerment you will get.
“All of you are of my kind and nobody is more Niger Delta than us.
“Every time, I’ll do what you need, not what I need because this office is for all of you.
“I thank you.”
Speaking earlier, the leader of the women, Princess Belema Deborah Jaja, said they were at Amnesty Office to thank the President and the Coordinator for stopping monopoly of amnesty benefits, opening doors to more people and debunking rumours and lies of greedy politicians feeding on the programme.
Jaja said: “We were motivated for this rally because of what has been going round.
“So much rumour flying in the air; so much division and hatred, etc.
“They have brought in sentiments.
“Some of the politicians are people I know.
“They go about paying people to come out and say and write all sorts of rubbish about him.
“We came to support him and tell him that women, especially those from the northern zone, are solidly behind him; that he should not be deterred in the good work he is doing and we support his progress.
“We came to tell him not to fear.
“He didn’t know we were coming today and nobody from Ijaw nation gave us a kobo for this.
“We cannot say because of money, we will no longer appreciate good thing.
“We came to tell him that we, women, have been marginalized right from the past.
“So, we came to encourage him and let him know that any way he can empower women, he should do it without fear and favour.”
The women carried placards with different inscriptions, some of which read: “Niger Delta women demand more allocation for Amnesty Office”; “National Assembly, please, increase our Amnesty allocation” and “We are solidly behind President Muhammadu Buhari for sustaining the peace and security in Niger Delta.”
Others are: “Ijaw Youth Council, Northern Zone Women say don’t mislead our oracle of development. He is the Moses of the Ijaws”; “Niger Delta politicians, please, stop politicizing Amnesty Office. Allow Professor Charles Quaker Dokubo to manage our Amnesty Programme well.”