By Timi Black, WARRI
•Accuses Dikio of employing serving military officer as head of data, peace building
•Urges Buhari to inaugurate NDDC board with immediate effect
Former agitator, HRH Dr. Selky kile Torughedi, popularly known as General Young shall Grow, Leader of South Wing MEND, has advised the interim administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col. Dikio Miland to tread with caution that any attempt to ridicule genuine ex-agitators in Niger Delta region would be counterproductive.
HRH Selky, who is also Chairman, Niger Delta Agitators Leadership Forum said issues regarding ex-agitators and their boys should be treated with a round-table dialogue between the beneficiaries and the camp leaders, including representatives of the amnesty office before making publications of unsubstantiated claims and wild allegations.
This was contained in a press statement signed by himself in Abuja.
HRH Selky, insisted that the process of attending to some complaints in the amnesty programme should not be an avenue to victimize or ridicule genuine camp leaders in the public fora that had payment agreements with their boys.
He accussed Col. Dikio for appointing a serving military personnel as head of data and peace building, adding that the camel back may be broken if care is not taken in his ongoing campaign against genuine agitators of the amnesty programme.
The Chairman of the agitators Forum, HRH Selky urged President Muhammadu Buhari for without further delay, inaugurate the substantive NDDC board now that the forensic audit process had been completed.
In a statement which he titled: “Niger Delta Must Put Its House In Order And Strive To Do The Right Thing” said a situation where the problem solving avenues are themselves laden with issues of corruption and fraudulent practices occassioned by the lack of political and social wills to effectively manage its own affairs so as to be properly positioned to deliver on the needs of the people, then there is an expected anarchy in the land.
He stressed:”This anarchy and tempestuous situation is what we the leaders should double our efforts to arrest and bring under control.
“Recently, there has been lots of news going around in print and social media of issues in the Niger Delta with regards to the products of our age long agitations cum struggles for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta people for equity and justice within the Nigerian State. Due to our agitation, Agencies and Ministries has been created to act with the intent to ameliorate the myriads of problems in the Niger Delta and it’s attendant fibrous and endless underdevelopment.
“However, it is quite nerve breaking that aside the persistent problems of underdevelopment, lack of social welfare, security and functional basic social amenities in the region, such problems now pervades even the agencies and ministries created to solve the aforementioned problems. Such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Presidential Amnesty programme.
“On the issues of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which for over the years have not had a substantive management board but rather an interim administration with a sole administrator. All these have caused so much instability in the NDDC as well as the Niger Delta region. It has made accountability nearly unascertainable and impracticable.
“We are told that a forensic audit has been initiated and ongoing and that after this, there would be series of actions taken to hold those found wanting accountable and then the substantive management board, which has been subject of many battles, would finally be appointed and inaugurated but here we are without any substantive Board or any attempt on such development even after the forensic audit has been concluded, submitted and published.
“These acts of insincerity are pushing the confidence of the people far from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, and this has to come to an end to ensure stability and meaningful development in the Niger Delta region.
“As leaders and stakeholders of the region, it is imperative that we pull ourselves together in order to decide the way forward; we must not allow bad politics to induce bad blood within the region because a situation where the intelligence and sensibilities of the people are not taken into consideration can generate tensions and cause crisis with grave consequences.
“You cannot tell the people one thing and do another thing, this shouldn’t be about political affiliation but a conscious effort to set things in the right part. We cannot afford to have agencies that are not administered in line with the acts that created them. Its more like arm-twisting our people and being less concerned as to how they feel about it.
“It has made the current APC Administration unpopular in the region. Therefore, it is necessary that those in authority should set aside every personal interest at this juncture and pursue the genuine interest of the People in all ramification.
“On the issues of the Amnesty programme, I am observing that we have similar situation that is bedeviling it of which there has been no substantive Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and Coordinator of the presidential Amnesty Office. While the reality on ground is that an Interim Administrator was appointed for a year now, the next option remains vague.
“Besides, there are series of issues in the office revealing a lot of improper handling of the administration of the Office by successive Special Advisers cum Coordinators by the erstwhile Interim Management Committee (IMC) set up by the National Security Adviser Major-General Mongono (Rtd), indicting these past leaders of the program. However, the way forward remains largely unclear on how the master plan of the amnesty programme will be actualized.
“We have been observing the current activities of the Interim administration of Col. Dikio who is determined to reposition the amnesty programme to execute his mandate and to expose all those found wanting of embezzling the fund of the Amnesty programme.
“Recently there has been publication of camp leaders’ names on print and social media exposing the fraudulent activities relating to the payment of bulk stipends to camp leaders, short-changing and non-payment of beneficiaries.
“We support the system to bring about sanity and equitable distribution of funds being paid to camp leaders for the subsequent distribution to their boys.
“But then this process should be executed with a round table dialogue between the beneficiaries and the camp leaders including representatives of the amnesty office before such publications. Let the right thing be done through the right process. This process should not be an avenue to victimize or ridicule genuine camp leaders in the public fora that have payment agreements with their boys.
“However, let it be on record that since the inception of the amnesty programme, the office has not made any provision to take care of the camp leaders (Generals). We were begged and promised heaven and earth to accept amnesty, but after accepting the Presidential Amnesty, none of the promises of the Federal Government to the Camp Leaders has been implemented. For example, no monthly salary for the camp leaders, no house allowance for the camp leaders and their boys, no social security package for the various camps, no strategic basic infrastructure in any of the communities of the camp leaders or impacted communities etc.
“Ordinarily, it is totally unacceptable that, some camp leaders who without the fear of God, will stop paying some of their boys and change their names by replacing them with different names. Although, there are cases of bush names and real names. The issue of Bush names and real names should be properly addressed by inviting the said camp leaders and their boys to the office for onward solutions.
“Further more, we have received complaints of militarisation of the Amnesty office by the Interim Administrator, we have been informed that, a serving military personnel has been appointed as the head of data and Head of Peace building of the Amnesty Program while also infusing the military into other sensitive offices. Such developments are not welcomed by the owners of the programme because it is a calculated attempt to intimidate and oppress our people. We have qualified amnesty beneficiaries that can fit in well and excel in those positions.
“The Presidency should also revisit the earlier agreement which the Federal Government had with the Leadership of MEND (Agitators) in order to resolve some lingering issues which have adversely affected the smooth functioning of the amnesty Program.
“The Federal Government’s refusal to revisit the Master Plan of the Program has in part made things difficult in the running of the Office and the Programme. The Office as well as the Programme needs a substantive Special Adviser and Coordinator who will have access to the President in order to proffer first hand solutions and give a more sense of belonging to the Niger Delta People within the Presidency.
“If the President wishes to translate Col. Milland Dikio as the substantive Special Adviser and Coordinator then it should make that determination instead of keeping the region in suspense. The Presidency should also look at the agreed entitlement of the Agitators Leadership in order to squarely resolve the issues of shortchanged and none payment of agitators . Again, the issue of ghost names should be squarely addressed and sanctions should apply strictly to serve as deterrent to those committing such havoc.
“For more than three years now, there had been no offshore education Programme that has benefited the various camps whereas, we have heard of some secret offshore education training ongoing to the exclusion of the Camp Leadership to benefit the powers that be but those who are neither from the region nor were they captured in the programme are among those given offshore scholarship, yet no heads have rolled for many months now. Such cover-ups are parts of the issues dragging down the Program.
“Finally, insinuations to end the Amnesty Program should not be hinted anywhere because the original master plan is yet to be actualized. Besides, the Programme is far less expensive when compared to what moves out of the region.
Aside the 13% derivation, the funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Amnesty Programme is less than 1% of the total oil and gas profit accruing to the Nigerian State from the Niger Delta per year. Why then would any reasonable person be uncomfortable with the continuation of the Amnesty’s Programme which is a security intervention programme even if it lasts forever?
“Those uncomfortable with the funding and running of the Amnesty Program should know that the Federal Government’s confiscation, and controlling the oil and gas of the Niger Delta region was not part of the original plan of Nigeria upon independence. As such, they should be careful and mind their business. What we should pursue is peace, understanding, unity, the development, wellbeing and stability of the Niger Delta region and Nigeria.
“We should make frantic efforts in achieving a situation where all agencies, ministries and parastatals including, other institutions of Government, will function properly and provide quality service delivery to the people across all regions. People should learn to ensure that what is due to the people be given them and should be comfortable with it because that is the basis of equity, equality and justice without which there will be chaos and crisis. I believe we don’t need the latter to prevail in our society, thank you all’, he added.