July 21, 2024

Saibakumo Congratulates Otuaro, Commends His Early Moves, Suggest Prescriptions For PAP

Niger Delta activist, Saibakumo Ahmed Eniyeketon commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for appointing Dr. Dennis B. Otuaro as the substantive Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. The tribute is based on the fact that Dr. Dennis Otuaro has been on the front line in the trenches for the emancipation of the people of Niger Delta. According to Saibakumo Ahmed, he has known him for over twelve years as an accomplished and tested leader which earned him the sobriquet, “THE ORACLE” because he always leveraged on the foresight as regards collective strength and synergy among the leaders of the Niger Delta. According to him, Dr. Dennis Otuaro would remain one of the finest worthy fittings for the new assignment since the proclamation of the programme by President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2009.

It is worth recalling that the declaration by President Yar’Adua was a realistic affirmation to the resilient restiveness and insurgency in the region leading to national economic slump; as the indigenous people protested against underdevelopment and poverty in the region. The Presidency mandated most Ijaw leaders to relocate to the creeks for dialogue. The result was the Prerogative of Pardon announcement of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP). Peace became gradually restored: setting recipe for fiscal and industrial recovery in the country.

The Presidential Amnesty Programme was a twig of the cascade of palliatives dished out the Niger Delta natives as was recommended by the famous Willink’s Commission of 1957: from the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority (NDBDA) of 1960; Presidential Tax Force with a 1.5% derivation interest Fund (1980); Presidential Tax Force on 3% Derivation in 1992; Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2000; Niger Delta Ministry in 2008 to Presidential Amnesty Programme in 2009. These palliatives have never achieved any curative impact on the “special terrain” case as made by the region in the pre-independent Nigeria.
As we are aware, the Presidential Amnesty Programme was designed into three phases (DDR). (1) Disarmament (surrendering of all arms and renunciation of militancy). That has been discharged. (2) Demobilization (change of combatant to a civilian). This is yet to be perfected as a result some societal vagaries. (3) Re-integration (Job creation, re-insertion, startup capital etc). This is the most problematic stage and the ball is on our court now. It is the most critical phase as it is almost like weaning off a child. Maladministration of this stage could boomerang and plunge the whole process hitherto into a ditch. It is very sensitive, necessary but painful juncture so it deserves thoughtful tact, subtlety, and acumen. It is against this backdrop I implore all leaders and opinion markers to play collaborative and complementary roles in this trying time. Distractions and campaigns of calumny should be discouraged.

As administrator or Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, he also doubles as the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta. Therefore, I rely on him to use his good offices to interface with the Presidency using multifaceted diplomacy on some teething challenges of abandoned projects in the region such as the Ogoni clean-up and other environmental challenges; the Burutu Port; the Bayelsa deep sea port; the multibillion-naira Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ASCON) etc. The Amnesty programme also is overdue for review in line with current realities. The conceptual gaps and compliance that would affect the sustainability or otherwise the terminability of the programme; the upward review of stipends for the Thirty Thousand beneficiaries; predilection for more lucrative and quintessential scholarships.

May him be reminded of a Presidential Committee Retreat termed “PAP THE UNFINISHED AGENDA” convened by the Co-Ordinator of the programme, Professor Charles Quakers Dokubo on January 20th, 2020 at Abuja.

Stakeholders and leaders of the Niger Delta brainstormed for a week and came out with a blueprint of comprehensive report on the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP). Dr. Ferdinand Ikwang of the Defense Academy of the United Kingdom was the Co-Ordinator/Lead resource persons. The report took time to unveil quick fixes and remedial alternatives with respect to conceptual lapses. I urge him to avail himself a copy of that document.

May God in His infinite mercies endow him the wisdom and strength to pilot the affairs of the programme to a greater success. I trust and wish him the best of luck.

Saibakumo, Ahmed Eniyeketon
(29th May, 2024)