It is a sad commentary that the Niger Delta people face the paradox of having an amazing wealth in crude oil but are buffeted by a whirlwind that has choked genuine efforts to turn around the situation in a region that is bare in human capital and infrastructural development.
Ironically, parochial interests, greed and an unbridled sense of entitlement have beclouded sound reasoning of some persons who claim to be leaders of the region and possess a monopoly of knowledge on how to run interventionist agencies established by the Federal Government to address developmental challenges.
For these elements, there is no line between darkness and light; morality or absurdity. What is paramount is the means to acquisition of illicit wealth, power and fame, not the common interest of the Niger Delta people whose balloon of hope they’ve consistently deflated whenever it was inflated.
That is the scenario being enacted in their desperation to take over the office of Prof. Charles Dokubo, Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, whose unblemished integrity they’ve unsuccessfully been trying to blur with tar. My worry, however, is that the drama has taken an absurd dimension.
Recently, Pointblanknews, an online portal notorious for blackmail and promotion of fake news on Amnesty Programme published an “exclusive” report that Prof, Dokubo had fled the country to the United States “after being implicated in an N23billion looting under the cover of the National Security Adviser, Gen. Babagana Monguno”, who it alleged, was his godfather.
The news portal claimed its investigations revealed that the presidency had asked Prof. Dokubo to prepare his hand-over notes and hand over to the most senior civil servant in the Amnesty Office, but the NSA advised Prof. Dokubo to escape the prying eyes of security operatives and go into hiding in the US.
It further said the presidency was concerned with security reports detailing fraudulent contracts and payments of over N10billion and the looting of the Boro Town Amnesty Programme training facility in Bayelsa State to cover up N13billion fraudulent contracts. It summed up that a total of N23billion Amnesty funds were looted between 2018 and 2019.
These are pointblank lies sponsored and recycled overtime by self-styled leaders to distract Prof. Dokubo from working to achieve the objectives for which the Programme was initiated, except for the recent addition that he had fled the country; when, in fact, he travelled to the Washington DC on official duty after being duly cleared for the trip by the authorities.
It turned out to be an unfortunate outing for the purveyors of fake news who were unaware that Dokubo had returned to Nigeria on the day the “exclusive” was splashed on PointblankNews, which has elevated junk journalism to a nauseating level. As a face-saving measure, the publishers deleted the report from the news portal same day to befuddle undiscerning members of the public, in a clear case of mischief.
That was a misadventure in which the publishers of PointblankNews had a bloodied nose and quickly needed a pad to clean up. So they went to town the next day, September 3, with another fabricated report that Prof. Dokubo had laundered over N5billion in two Turkish banks in connivance with three senior management staff of the Amnesty Programme, including the directors of Administration, Procurement, and Legal Adviser.
The report also claimed that investigation on the case by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had been stalled because Dokubo is a nominee of the NSA, General Monguno, who is also the godfather of the acting chairman of EFCC. It further claimed that companies registered and owned by some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s principal aides and leaders of the All Progressive Congress, were awarded fraudulent contracts at the Amnesty Programme.
But it fell short of expectation on ethical standards as no mention was made of the two banks in Turkey where the alleged sum of N5billion was laundered and how it was perpetrated, neither were other details of alleged contract scams provided.
Rather than indulging in concoction of fake news in furtherance of their smear campaign against Prof. Dokubo with the objective of removing him from office, the publishers of PointblankNews might have earned for themselves, an inch of credibility (if there was any left for them), if only they had done a bit of checks and cross-checking of what was availed them as facts.
That way, they would have known that the unfortunate incident of vandalization and looting of the Amnesty Programme Vocational Training Centre at Kaiama, Bayelsa State by hoodlums in February, this year, had been under investigation by security agencies, particularly the Police, which has concluded its assignment and submitted a report to the appropriate authorities. I hope that the findings will be made public soon to put to rest the chain of fallacy churned out as exclusive news on PointblankNews about that incident.
I have no doubt that discerning and well-meaning Niger Deltans and Nigerians are conscious of the ignoble role of Pointblanknews to please their paymasters by discrediting Prof. Dokubo. Which is why, reports celebrated on the portal in recent times are mainly about Dokubo and the Amnesty Programme.
It is unfortunate that the publishers of PointblankNews have gone a step further by dragging the names of respected top government officials who have no business with the Amnesty Programme in the mud, in a desperate bid to get at Dokubo. My prayer is that his detractors will soon come to terms with the futility of their actions and succumb to the supremacy of the will of God, the Almighty. No human should play God.
Ganagana is Special Assistant (Media), to the Coordinator, Amnesty Programme