From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) has said it was time the ex-agitators ‘think beyond the N65,000 [monthly stipend]’ mentality.
Speaking to leaders of the second phase amnesty programme in Yenagoa at the weekend, Dikio regretted that the ex-agitators had allowed the stipends to become their stronghold restricting them from harnessing their entrepreneurial potential.
Describing the stipend as inadequate, he challenged the ex-agitators to wear their thinking caps and key into PAP’s vision of making them successful entrepreneurs to enable them to exit the stipend regime.
He said it was only reasonable to end the Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) aspect of the programme to begin a post-DDR phase of the scheme.
Dikio said for the region to move forward the scheme must be changed from ‘amnesty’ to the Niger Delta Stabilisation Programme (NDSP) insisting that with the current status ‘there are things we can’t do and there are countries we can’t enter.
‘We must establish the Niger Delta Stabilisation Programme. We must change that name, terminate the DDR and open another thing. I have operated DDR in Cameroon and Angola. As far as this name ‘amnesty’ remains there are things that we can’t do and there are countries we can’t enter. We can’t make progress sitting in one place. My job is to make you think beyond the N65,000 mentalities”.
He said the PAP was offering a platform to the ex-agitators through the cooperative model to enable them to develop and own functional businesses adding that all the beneficiaries of the scheme must organise themselves under cooperatives.
‘You must think of how you can graduate from stipends after 11 years. I am offering you a platform. You have to form yourselves into cooperatives. You are better than this stronghold of N65,000.’
Dikio also asked the ex-agitators and other youths in the Niger Delta to stop blocking major roads for protests and issuing an ultimatum to oil companies to leave the region.
He said such public display of violent behaviour was part of the reasons while most persons outside the region claimed the Niger Delta was not safe.
‘We must all begin to think of how to bring companies back to the Niger Delta. If they are not here, your PhD is in vain. We have told you that after your scholarship you must work first for Niger Delta for two years. It is up to you and I to make the Niger Delta a better place.’
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Source: Nigerian Newspapers Online