The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) are starting a collaboration that should speed up the development of the region.
The motivation behind this agreement is the peace and security in the region and ultimately, making the Niger Delta region one of the most desirable places to live and do business in.
The announcement was made after a crucial closed-door meeting held in Okochiri, Rivers State on Thursday.
Those in attendance include the leadership of the ex-agitators, the Interim Administrator of the PAP, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio and Interim Administrator of the NDDC, Barr. Effiong Akwa at the Palace of the King of Okochiri, King Ateke Tom JP.
Some First-class traditional rulers from the Niger Delta region also attended the meeting and were a part of the resolution to maintain peace.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, Senator Godswill Akpabio said that his ministry is committed to seeing physical change in the region that will rival anything done in other parts of the country He stressed that the time has come for the NDDC to build industries that will employ already trained ex-militants from the Amnesty programme.
Spokesperson for the ex-agitators, Richard Akinika, read the statement signed by the major Niger Delta stakeholders, in which they expressed their delight over the appointment of the interim administrators of the PAP and NDDC. They also pledged their loyalty and support to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the PAP, the MNDA and the NDDC.
In his remarks, PAP Interim Administrator, Col. Dikio (rtd), declared that now is the time for all sister agencies and stakeholders within the Niger Delta region to work in synergy to ensure the safety and security of lives and properties and create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“It is important for us to say in clear terms that the era of working in silos is over. We must stop take ownership of our region and stop treating issues related to the Niger Delta with levity. It is time to be more creative in problem -solving”.
“We must think on our feet and know how to position ourselves for advancement. It is only when we all take ownership of the industries that are within our domain that we can talk about resource control.”
Col. Dikio thanked the Minister for the initiatives taken and stressed that if the three organizations worked together, it will ensure that those initiatives will gain more traction and become even more impactful on the people in the region.
He assured the ex-militant leaders that the meeting was one of the many collaborations that will take place as the PAP takes steps to ensure that ex-agitators are transformed into entrepreneurs and employable citizens who will become net contributors to the economy of the region.
Col. Dikio further explained, “We have brokered peace with major stakeholders in the region. We inherited quite a lot of debts, but we have started paying those debts sequentially from 2014”.
“As for our scholarship students, we have issues of students who have partial scholarships, and we are working to ensure that the dichotomy does not exist any longer.”
“We have a different view about empowerment. We want to ensure that if you say somebody is empowered, he is either an entrepreneur, who could stand on his feet or so well-trained that he can compete for any job not because he is from the Niger Delta but because he is qualified to hold an appointment”.
It may be recalled that the vision of the Interim Administrator, Col. Milland Dikio (rtd) is to refocus the Presidential Amnesty Programme to its original mandate of maintaining peace and security and development in the region.
According to Col. Dikio (rtd), the various governments and agencies in the region cannot be left out; they have a role to play to ensure that the Niger Delta is the most secure place to live and do business in Nigeria.