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Presidential Programme, NDDC, ex-agitators sign deal to develop Niger Delta

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The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and former agitators in the region have signed a deal targeted at enhancing development in Niger Delta.

The collaboration deal was announced after a closed-door meeting held in Okochiri, Rivers State, attended by the leadership of the ex-agitators, interim Administrator of the PAP Col. Milland Dikio Dixon, Minister Of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio and interim Administrator of NDDC, Effiong Akwa, at the palace of traditional ruler of Okochiri, King Ateke Tom.

Speaking at the meeting, Dixon said it was time for all sister agencies and stakeholders in the region to work in synergy to ensure the safety and security of lives and properties and also create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

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He disclosed that the amnesty programme has been repositioned to empower ex-agitators to be competent and efficient in their chosen fields, so as to be independent of stipends.

“We have brokered truce with the major stakeholders. We inherited a lot of debts and we have started paying those debts sequentially from 2014 downwards.

“For students, we are also clearing backlogs of fees. There are students who had partial scholarships and we are working to ensure that such dichotomy does not exist anymore.

“For empowerment, we want to ensure that those powered can compete for any job anywhere, not because they are from the Niger Delta, but because they are competent and qualified.”

Akpabio thanked the ex-agitators for their cooperation and told the gathering that his ministry was committed to seeing physical change in the region.

He said the meeting was geared towards remodeling the amnesty programme on how repentant militants can be entrepreneurs instead of depending on stipends, noting that the Niger Delta remains a priority in President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda.

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He stated: “We must find ways to move the Niger Delta region forward. We are hopeful the East-West road will be completed by December, as contractors have been mobilised to site and Setraco, RCC and Giito are back on site.

“By August this year, the project must have gone far. I am also a part and parcel of the victims of East-West road, as I ply that road almost daily. That is why I went to Mr. President and told him I will take over the project.

“I have devoted one quarter of my ministry’s 2021 budget into the road. I also insisted that NDDC must make a contribution, even if it is N25billion and the Federal Ministry of Finance is contributing about N25billion to make N100billion available for the completion of that road.

“I am sure that by early next year, between February and March, we will commission the entire section of the East-West Road. The failed portions you see now, you will see them no more.”

Akwa and the notable ex-militant leaders, including Tom, Ebikabowei Victor Ben, aka General Boyloaf, and Bibopre Ajube, aka General Shoot at Sight, amongst others, Owei, aka Boyloaf and General Peterside, also threw their weight behind the repositioning of the amnesty programme.

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