The scholarship scheme of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) has produced its first Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduate 13 years after the commencement of the programme for Niger Delta ex-agitators.
The first doctoral degree holder, Dr. Tam Godspower Odogwu, told the Interim Administrator, Maj.-Gen. Barry Ndiomu (retd), that he was happy for the feat during a meeting between Ndiomu and Phase three ex-agitators in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Odogwu explained that he took advantage of the opportunity provided by PAP to attain the highest academic achievement, adding that the certificate would be given to him in the forthcoming convocation of the Igbinedion University, Okada in Edo State.
He said the feat opened the window for others to explore their academic potential and challenged other beneficiaries of the programme to make good use of the opportunity provided by PAP.
He appealed to the Federal Government not to terminate the programme because of its benefits to the development of the Niger Delta.
He said: “I am extremely lucky, fortunate and happy. When I got the opportunity, I had to make good use of it and today I have made it. Having a Ph.D at this time means a lot because you are somebody that has to contribute to the society meaningfully.
“Today, a lot has been said about the amnesty programme even the Federal government is feeling that the amnesty programme is heading for a different dimension and it’s not productive but I want to use this medium to appeal to the federal government that the amnesty programme is really doing well.
“It’s just that the previous administrators were not able to put certain things in place but that simply displays the human nature of being imperfect. This doesn’t mean that the PAP in itself is not good and beneficial. This programme is one of the best things that has happened to the people of the Niger Delta.
“The amnesty programme is one of the things that have largely contributed to the peace we enjoy in the Niger Delta. The programme has also secretly produced a lot of Niger Delta graduates. As we speak, this programme is also producing a lot of masters degree holders and I happen to be the first PhD holder and I know a lot more are coming.
“The best thing that the federal government has done to the Niger Delta people is the amnesty. Initially, when the offer came we were scared. Nobody wanted to receive this offer when former President Yarádua presented it in 2009, we never knew what the federal government had in mind. Today, we can see that even the current President who continued the amnesty programme has the best of intentions for us”.
Odogwu, whose thesis was on Public and Private Partnership (PPP), with focus on the anchor borrowers programme, an agricultural initiative of the federal government, said if fully implemented it would benefit many people in the Niger Delta region.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the appointment of Ndiomu, saying that he had the capacity to run the programme efficiently and urged people of the region to support him to achieve his plans.
Ndimou in his remarks said despite some challenges, PAP had produced some positive results and commended the likes of Odogwu for justifying the huge sums expended by government on the scholarship scheme of the programme.
He noted that the PAP would continue to support bright minds and those willing to be successful to achieve their desired goals.