The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Prof. Charles Dokubo, said at the weekend that the Federal Government views the Amnesty Programme as a necessary and veritable tool to transform the hitherto restive oil rich region.
This, he noted, informed President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to actualising the objectives of the programme.
Dokubo, who is also the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, spoke in Abuja at a commemorative rally to mark the struggle for the emancipation of the Niger Delta, spearheaded by the late Major Isaac Boro.
The Boro Day is an annual event organised by the Ijaws in all states of the South South and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Describing Boro as the first person to see the Niger Delta as a viable region, Dokubo noted that the Amnesty Programme is a direct reflection of his desires for the Niger Delta people.
He said: “We are here today because of a journey he started some years ago. What we do here is to symbolize the aspiration and the ambition of Boro. Amnesty is a direct reflection of his desires for the Niger Delta people.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria under late President Yar’Adua took up the issue of Amnesty not because it was a difficult task, but because it was a necessary task and that is why this government is so committed to the Amnesty Programme.
“I have been around for just a year plus, and I have seen the desire of this government to make sure Amnesty survives and that the people of Niger Delta should benefit immensely from the Programme that we run at the Amnesty office. It’s like some of us don’t even know the avenues that are open to us. If we can explore, exploit and make use of the available opportunities, Niger Delta will be a different place.”
Assuring on President Buhari’s determination to uplift the Niger Delta region, Dokubo explained some of his strategies to optimize the impact of the Amnesty Programme.
He said: “After assuming office, I tried to open the doors of my office to every Niger Delta person; I did that because I know it is necessary and also because I realized that we need equality of all Niger Delta people. There is no Niger Delta person that has come to my office and had gone back displeased.
“What I want to do is to de-emphasize dependence on N65,000 monthly stipends by beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme, so that Niger Delta people can work, earn and also enjoy themselves. If you earn what you are entitled to have, there will be a trickle effect; you have to pay your children’s school fees, you have to pay your rent, you have to take care of your family and do all the things that are required of a family man.
“Niger Delta should also be emancipated through the Amnesty Programme in the sense that you can work anywhere. You will know that you are a very resilient people. Where there is no way, we find; where there is no opportunity, we create one. We just have to continue to do that effectively.”
While urging the people of Niger Delta to work in concert for the success of the Amnesty Programme, he warned on the dire consequences if opportunities inherent in the Programme were not effectively utilized.
Dokubo said: “My fear is that if this Amnesty Programme is not well used by our people, I mean the ordinary Niger Delta people, in years to come our children will blame us. This Programme is to empower us, the people from the Niger Delta. My brothers and sisters let us not allow this opportunity to slip from our hands; we are all Niger Deltans, I believe we are all equal, and I know this Programme is for everyone in the Niger Delta.
“We should work hard and look at the opportunities created by this Programme. Then, we can say to ourselves; we have done our best.
“Whenever we try and put in effort, we always succeed. I pray that spirit shines in all of you. Let us know that this is our Programme, nobody can draw us back. As an individual, I cannot make everybody to like me, but if the majority of my people are happy with me, I’m okay. What I want is for everyone to cue into the Programme. I will create a new mission and a new vision that we can use to empower our people.”
The high point of the event, which was held at the Jabi Waterfront in Abuja, was the conferment of an Award of Excellence on Dokubo by the Ijaw community resident in the FCT for his sterling performance and achievements barely one year in office.