Ex-agitators and members of the Strategic Communications Committee (SCC) set up by the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) have expressed their readiness to counter negative narratives hitherto peddled about the Niger Delta region. Speaking after a three-day workshop organised for them in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, by PAP’s Interim Administrator, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), the ex-agitators said the skills and techniques they learnt from experts assembled for the event would help them change the negative perception about the region.

The Chairman of SCC, Pastor Nature Dumale said: “The training has given us the awareness and the enlightenment we never had. The knowledge we have received will be adequately used to change the narratives and perception of people about our region”.Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom and Chairman, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Emmanuel Essien, who attended the grand finale of the workshop, urged ex-agitators to contribute to the development of the region.PAP’s interim administrator, Col. Milland Dikio (rtd) in his address, asked the ex-agitators to channel their knowledge to the progress and development of the region appealing to them to emulate others, who were already making positive impacts in the region and minimize complaining but start working with vision and purpose.

He said: “Contribute to the development of the Niger Delta region instead of complaining. The agitation should be channelled to the right purpose. Progress is not measured overnight; it starts with little beginnings just like this one.”In his remarks, Governor Udom Emmanuel, who was represented by his special assistant cottage industries clusters, Mrs Owoidighe Ekpoattai, enjoined the committee to be proud of their region and report truth without prejudice.

He commended Dikio for challenging the ex-agitator to move from dependent stipend earners to independent entrepreneurs.“With this, I know you will report positively about Akwa Ibom State and especially the Niger Delta region. This is a great region and a good place to be. I am proud to be from the Niger delta region because we speak the truth and we want to be free,” he said the PANDEF chairman, Emmanuel Essien described the workshop as a success and commended Dikio for bringing the event to Akwa Ibom saying it was the first time such event held in the state.Essien said: “The Amnesty Programme is a special programme for the region and it would not last forever.“Your job is to ensure that positive reporting is done for the benefit of this region so that investors will not runaway from this region.

We have to make this region peaceful to attract employment and opportunities for our people.”The workshop with the theme, “Communication for Positive Change” was organised for members of the SCC by Dikio through the PAP’s Media Consultant, First Media Network Limited, to equip them with the skills to effectively discharge their mandate of changing the perception of the region through effective communication, especially at the grassroots.

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