Ex-agitators of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) have explained they stopped blocking the East-West Road for protests following reforms introduced by the Interim Administrator of the scheme, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd).
They said Dikio won their hearts through prompt payments of their stipends, effective communication, introduction of the Train, Employ and Mentor (TEM) training strategy.
The ex-agitators made their position known in a statement in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Monday signed by the National Secretary of the First Phase Amnesty, Pastor Dumale Kieghe.
They also highlighted Dikio’s frequent visit to the region and his regular meetings with stakeholders as another milestone that had brought relative peace to the Niger Delta.
Kieghe said since Dikio came on board, he had demonstrated his capacity to run the programme and commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing him at a time the PAP was beginning to lose its value.
The ex-warlords also commended Dikio for not compromising his standards despite the pressures and blackmail by pereons, who were part of the endemic rot, that had stalled the development of the amnesty programme for years.
The statement said: “We want to let the Niger Delta people know that there is hope with this administration. One of the things we have taken with high note is that Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), has not apportioned blame to his predecessors and that shows a high sense of responsibility on his part.
“Before this time, we had delegates who went for training and have not been engaged or employed and this made the amnesty programme looks as though it had failed.
“But since the assumption of Dikio, he made up his mind not to award contracts that will not get delegates engaged. Dikio initiated the train, employ and mento (TEM) scheme in order to engaged capable vendors to implement his vision for the PAP beneficiaries.
“Today, we have ex-agitators in different training facilities in the Niger Delta undergoing the TEM scheme and we look forward to the success stories of these trainees. We also have ex-agitators going through Agricultural entrepreneurship training. The training is to help us become employees of labour. It is the first of its kind”.
The ex-agitators appealed to the ministries of environment, petroleum resources and Niger Delta affairs to work in synergy with the amnesty office to meet the demands of the Niger Delta region.
The ex-warlords urged the people of the region and key stakeholders to throw their weight of support behind Dikio to enable him achieve his overall plans for the programme.
He said: “Over the years we have been blocking roads and protesting, it has not yielded any result. Each time we block the road, it is our people and their businesses that suffer. We end up frustrating the businesses of our people.
“We are used to pulling down our leaders and those at the helm of affairs, can we for a change show support to Dikio? Our hope and wish is for other government parastatals involved in the Niger Delta recovery plan to learn from Dikio to sustain peace in the Niger Delta and attract meaningful development to our region.”