In this interview with The Liberator Newspapers Worldwide, Barr. JP Owoupele, former spokesman Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide and a critical stakeholder in Niger Delta speaks about the performance of Gen. Ndiomu and the reaction of Niger Deltans regarding the amnesty office.


Liberator: You are a former spokesman of council and a critical stakeholder in the region . What is your assessment of the present head of the Amnesty office, Gen Ndiomu Barry Rtd
Well, in my view , it’s too early to make a categorical evaluation of his administration given the length of time he has been there .

Liberator: Are you saying that you can’t make any prognosis given the cries that have attended his emergence and handling of the office within this short period ?

What has he done, and what are the issues . In my view, the issues in the Amnesty office are issues he met and not of his own doing . The issues of non payment , one BVN connected to many accounts, inability to send people to school given the lean resources and arising from over stretching of the last intake , or is it the issues of bulk payments or the removal of names or the emergence of foreign people who were never part of the program .
These are clearly irregularities that he met . They predated his tenure, and as the new head, he has to look at them critically and find a way to deal with these developments .

We must appreciate the enormity of this burden. We must join hands with him to solve these multifaceted challenges over time .

The issue of people from Kogi and Eastern origin being part of our bulk of students is an anathema . As one who had been there from the beginning, these revelations are not inspiring and must be carefully handled . He is taking his time to study these infractions, and given the level of his consultations with key leaders and stakeholders, I am hopeful that he will be able to manage them successfully in the long run.

Libetator: Others have said that the money he has been receiving is what Hon Kingsley Kuku and others were receiving and therefore has no room for excuses, Do you share this view ?

I do not agree with this view . First, a look at our economy alone shows that we are degenerating in terms of the economic purchasing power and value of our currency . Things have excalated, and inflationary issues have rendered our naira weak . The situation has made it more difficult to meet with his expenditure as cost has also increased over the years . Do not forget that in all this te office has not increased the budget neither have the increased the monthly stipends.

Gen Ndiomu has shown that he listens . For example, there have been some issues, and when they were brought to his attention, he sat with the people concerned, and these issues were resolved . This shows that men of Gen Ndiomu Rtd character have thr tendency to succeed because they are passionate and ever committed to reaching a good end . What he needs is the full cooperation of all good people . We must be patient with him.

Dont forget he came from a background of command and structure that abhors indiscipline. They have a different approach to issues and expect excellence at all times . This is different from the other heads, especially our our Hon Kingsley kuku, who had been with us and is a product of our collective efforts in extricating our people from the shackles of extreme marginalization and political alienation.

In his case, he has to understand our psychology as a people since he was never part of our struggle . But given his general approach over the past few months, i can say that he is adapting fast . He now knows the challenges and the wider expectations of our people in this enterprise.

Libetator: On issues of payment, what is your opinion on how he has handled it so far ?.

The concern raised is one that is critical to peace . Why do people have their BVN attached to many accounts ? Why are people collecting bulk payments when the intention is to pay every single individual. The other issue related to this is how many people have been trained and what is the percentage of those awaiting training to forestall multiple unending trainings .

His objective is to ensure that none in the program is deprived of his benefits as those who voluntarily disarmed. However, as one who had previously worked with the office, I am aware that there were certain circumstances that enabled such unethical developments. These should not be a permanent frature given the complaints that have greeted such payments. For example if a court gives an order or a judgment that bulk payments be made to a general or a lawyer in lieu of the power of attorney in an action or that the members of the camp had donated their right to their camp commander and asked that such payments be made to the account of the head then such are extenuating circumstances that can be excused especially when it’s coming from a court of competent jurisdiction.

Beyond the above cited , it’s the principle that all members be paid directly . These are some of the issues that confronted the IA since his emergence as the interim head of the office.

Another issue is the integrity of data. Obviously, the Amnesty data has been compromised before his appointment. We can’t have an Ahmed or Sule or Yemisi in the data bank of the Amnesty office . Such developments put the integrity of the program in doubt . Such are some of the infractions that the general is combating, and those who perpetrated these heinous crimes are clearly fighting back because their exposure is certainly inimical to their persons .

Libetator: What about allegations of fraud that has been leveled against him recently . That he paid several non-existent contracts to the tune of billions ?

It’s one thing to make an accusation and another to evidence proof of occurrence . All we have heard is the allegations but no proof . In my world , when you make an accusation, the burden of proof is on you . Now, the media hype this matter generated is such that one would have expected the accuser to also petition him for investigation or take the matter to court so they can try him and find him guilty . Remember, our jurisprudence is to the extent that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The Liberator: Finally why do you think a lot of people are attacking and criticizing him always . We have seen several within this short period of his leadership?

All over the world and in every society people always react to the concept of change . This is because the attempt to change the nomenclature will cause certain disruptions that will affect some characters negatively. To these set of people they will not embrace it and will in many cases fight back to frustrate the new approach . This is the issue . When you take a closer view you will find that this is the case in the amnesty office . Some people have over the years profited from such enterprise and are not ready to let go of such actions . The amnesty office over the years has clearly become a vehicle for some to achieve some unethical purposes . These things don’t excite nor inspire the new leadership neither is the leadership ready to be part of such activities . So new approaches were introduced and this is been resisted at all times . Now this does not mean that all such agitations are not true or lacking in truth . For example many have said that they have not been paid and their issues are genuine. Now in such cases the human error may have occurred hence committee were set up and affected people have appeared and cleared their issues . Am sure these people have already been paid . So we must be patient and offer our genuine partnership to aid the office to succeed in the wider interest of the region and our Nation .

We have used our sacred blood to get some of these intervention agencies and cannot fold our arms and allow it to defeat its purpose . We must be deliberate and patriotic in our views and offer that support at all times . The general is reachable and has shown that he is ready to listen to superior logic in shaping our course and objective as a people . We cannot allow him to fail especially where technical or specific knowledge is concerned.

I call on the INC IYC and all other critical stakeholders to show deep and temperate concern at all times to ensure that we succeed in this voyage . In this same breath , I urge him to carry the critical stakeholders especially our leader , Chief Ekpomupolo oweizide who has over the years carried and has showed an unprecedented aptitude to advance our course as a people at all times. His continuous engagement with these people will not only assit him to succeed but will help to stabilize the region for the good of all .

Liberator: Thank you bar JP OWOUPELE