Constant obstruction of East West road demonises Niger Delta, PAP tells ex-agitators
Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Dixion Milland Dikio (rtd.), has lamented ex-agitators constant obstruction of the East-West road, which was criminalising the Niger Delta region.
Describing the ex-agitatorsantics as ‘retrogressive and old-fashioned,’ Dikio said protest and agitations to advance causes were no longer fashionable.
He said instead of protesting against any perceived deprivation, beneficiaries of the programme should adopt dialogue and other persuasive means that would engender greater development of the region.
Dikio stated this in Port Harcourt, yesterday, at the opening of a three-day workshop on Strategic Communication for the PAP and its delegates, organised with Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform in Nigeria (FOSTERN).
He said instead of obstructing a crucial economic gateway in the region with protests, the ex-agitators should dialogue to resolve their grievances.
Dikio said most stakeholders in the region lacked understanding of the PAP, “which makes them abandon critical issues to pursue crumbs,” adding that the PAP was a subset of other major initiatives designed to address arms struggle in the region that gave birth to the amnesty programme.
He said it was unreasonable for 20 million people to anchor their future on a programme developed for 30,000 ex-agitators, insisting that instead of dissipating their energies on crumbs, they should engage ministries of the Niger Delta Affairs, Environment and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on development and environmental remediation issues.
“The PAP was set up as disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of 30,000 ex-agitators. Those not among the 30,000 persons in the scheme are visitors.
“There is a need for clarity. At the inception of the programme, amnesty was a subset of so many other initiatives to address arm struggle. If we don’t understand it, we will leave the important things and fight over crumbs,” he said.
Dikio lamented that most of the beneficiaries were not concerned about the major issues that led to the PAP, but were only interested in unnecessary protests for personal gains.
“When we don’t understand the essence of the programme, we leave the important things to fight over crumbs. Indeed, 20 million people cannot anchor their future on a programme for 30,000 people. The PAP is a vital part, because it takes care of the DDR and manpower development needs of impacted communities.”
“The ministries of Niger Delta Affairs, Environment and the NDDC, in particular, are the executive arms of the infrastructure development and that is where we have to broaden the conversation,” he stated.
Speaking on Key Elements of Strategic Communications, Lanre Arogundade, noted that information shared about the programme, was capable of destroying its very essence, adding that it was having a bad image outside the region based on the attitude of some beneficiaries and that it was time to change the narrative of the PAP.