A prominent ex-agitator in the Niger Delta and Chairman of the Strategic Communication Committee of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Pastor Nature Dumale, in this interview raised the alarm over the plan of “enemies of the Niger Delta” to truncate the vision of the Interim Administrator, PAP, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio, for ex-agitators, Niger Delta and Nigeria. Nature gives reasons why ex-agitators want Dikio to complete his mission.
How will you rate the approach adopted by Dikio to discharge the functions of his office?
The first thing we observed as ex-agitators and the presidential amnesty programme committee members is that the Interim Administrator, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (Rtd.) has not accused any of his predecessor of handling the PAP programme wrongly.
He has not been blaming those who were there before he came. He has not blamed the former coordinators and special advisers. He rather chose to undertake his tasks and do his job. His sole aim is to actualise the mandate of PAP by making sure he achieves necessary results.
In the past, we saw people take over the office but kept playing the blame game and ended up achieving nothing. But Dikio has continously sought ways to correct the wrongs and bring peace to Niger Delta.
Everything he has done so far is to reposition the Niger Delta for peace and development. He desires multinationals, which had left the region to return, do business and employ our people.
The second thing we observed is that he has returned the programme to its owners in the Niger Delta. Before he came, ex-agitators like me were visiting Abuja for meetings. But immediately he came, Dikio returned the programme to the region and insisted that all activities of the amnesty programme must be held in the Niger Delta.
Even our own people tried to discourage him. They felt there was going to be crisis among the delegates and among the ex-agitators, but because he’s a positive-minded person, he took the initiative, defied all pessimism and negative narratives against the region and started holding his meetings in the Niger Delta. He had so for held his meetings in Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom and Ondo states and these meetings were all successful.
The region is feeling the economic multiplier effects of these engagements. The economic benefits trickle down to all stakeholders and business owners in the region ranging from hotels, to food vendors
These are signs that he has good intentions for the Niger Delta people. There is no doubt that Dikio has brought the programme back to the people. This man means well for us and for this country. He has good knowledge of this programme. He understands that this programme belongs to us.
Another unique thing Dikio has done is setting up a strategic communication committee for the ex-agitators.
What did Dikio hope to achieve with this your committee?
This committee is to enable the ex-agitators understand what PAP is all about, the lies, misconceptions and the truth about the programme. We now understand we have wasted too much time without achieving anything. We have now seen what real reintegration is all about.
We advise Nigerians and critical stakeholders not to give room to elements of distraction, who do not want people to survive in this region, and who do not want the success of the Niger Delta and the presidential amnesty programme.
One of the things that made him set up the strategic communication committee was when he discovered we could not communicate effectively. So, he set up the committee to enable us learn how to communicate effectively. This committee was also inaugurated in Port Harcourt Rivers State.
To show his commitment to the region, Dikio has given us trainings to enable us know how to communicate better to the Niger Delta people and to the rest of the country and the world at large.
We have accepted to change the perception of people concerning the Niger Delta. The only way to change the narrative is by changing the way we communicate and the kind of information we give out to the public so that multinationals and companies, which left this area because of negative reports can come back.
This is one of his greatest achievements within this period. And is on the basis of this that I’m speaking now as the Chairman of the strategic communication committee for the presidential amnesty programme.
The vision of Dikio is that if we must build a peaceful environment for sustainable development, we must learn how to communicate our values, our needs, our success stories to our people Nigerians and the world at large.
This amnesty boss has made us to understand that through positive mindset of our region, we can all together change the wrong perception, the negative perception that enemies of this region have given to the public.
We are, hereby, begging and asking the Federal Government under the leadership of President muhammadu Buhari not to be distracted by the antics of our enemies.
We have not seen this positive development in PAP like this before and we do not want this vision and move by Dikio to bring development and peace through the reintegration of our delegates to stop now.
We are calling on President Buhari ignore mischief makers and focus on confirming the appointment of Dikio as the substantive coordinator of PAP so that he can finish the programme so that he can see his programme through and actualise the mandate of the amnesty scheme.
What are some of the measures taken by Dikio to reposition the programme?
Dikio took up the responsibility to reposition PAP by going straight to the reintegration process to help the beneficiaries to become entrepreneurs so that they can be in charge of their future and look beyond the N65,000 stipends to become employers of labour.
That is where the interim administrator is heading heading for now now and he has set the strategies on ground.
We want to let the Federal Government know that there are people in this Niger Delta region, who survive only by instigating crisis and troubles. It is their only means of livelihood. We cannot be distracted by them now that we have found a solution to our problems.
What key decisions do you think have positively affected beneficiaries of the programme?
Dikio made up his mind not to award any contract to anybody except, this contract will not just train our boys but also employ them, mentor them to become successfull employers. Dikio is working tirelessly to make sure that this happens as he returns from his two-week holiday.
He has focused on three areas of empowerment such as water transportation, waterway security and food production.
We are surrounded by water and traveling by water is one of the fastest means of getting to you destination. As a visionary leader, Dikio wants us to take advantage of our environment, making sure that we will maximize the potential surrounding us.
On food production, the amnesty boss has consulted many large farms. He has also made arrangements for the delegates to be given loans from CBN to enable them start viable agro businesses after their training.
For proper induction, Dikio has started running restoration, transformation, mind-renewal and sensitisation programmes to take ex-agitators through a counselling a day healing process.
For those who are still suffering the effect of cultism, Dikio came up with the vision of camping them for a period of time so that their mindset can be reorientated for them to place value on the training they will receive on their different chosen areas of skill acquisitions.
In the past, our youths and delegates were fond of selling their empowerment tools and ended up going back to the creeks. Dikio saw these failures and these lapses in the PAP and decided to come up with the vision of bootcamping. Already Dikio will be sending sending a delegation to Shangai Farm in Port Harcourt next week to negotiate with them to use facility for to camping. The idea is to change their mindset, perception and orientation about life and to make them understand that this opportunity may not come again for life. They should place value on it.
With this, we assure the public and the Niger Delta people that delegates will become reasonable, resourceful, useful not just to themselves, but also to their families, states, Niger Delta and Nigeria. So the vision of Dikio is that nobody will be empowered without going through one month ofmind change. It was also designed to deliver ex-agitators from drug abuse, involvement in cultism and other negative life styles.
No one has addressed this programme in this magnitude,no one has addressed this program through this way before. Only Dikio has come with this vision. How can the enemies of the Niger Delta come to stop this kind of the vision Dikio has put in place.
Who are these enemies you keep talking about?
These are persons, who do not want the amnesty programme to succeed are spreading falsehood to undermine the process. As a strategic communication committee members, we have been observing what has been happening in the area. We have made up our mind not to keep quiet, not to fold our hands because the presidential amnesty programme belongs to us. It’s our programme and we have to defend and protect it. Enemies of the amnesty programme want our boys to return to the creeks because many of them will not survive except there is crisis in the region. They want crisis to continue. Their children are overseas, studying in the best universities but they want us to continue to protest.
Youths of the Niger Delta stopped protesting about amnesty and their stipends since Dikio came on board. The last time I protested I was arrested by SARS operatives and I was almost hanged if not for well-meaning Nigerians like the former Inspector-General of police Mike Okiro and other human rights activists in Rivers. People, who sent me to do that protest, could not picking my calls anymore. They abandoned me. About 45 of us were arrested and almost 50 were wounded in that protest.
But some persons are complaining about recent irregularities in the payment of stipends?
Dikio has not changed the structure of payment to ex-agitators. He met a structure and he has followed it. Whoever that is accusing him is just an enemy. He has not touched any camp nor adjusted any payment. I want to call on all Nigerians all well-meaning Niger Deltans, youths, stakeholders to embrace the vision of Dikio.
Let us give him the necessary support, I call on all ex-agitators all delegates, or beneficiaries of the amnesty programme to stand by Dikio. Such support will enable him round off his vision and strategies he has set in motion, that will bring about the lasting peace prosperity in the region and Nigeria at large.