The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for extending the tenure of Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) as Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
It however, said as a Council it feels strongly that it would have been in the interest of the region if the president had made the appointment of Col. Dikio (rtd) substantive rather than the interim capacity, adding that they are not comfortable with it.
National Spokesman of the IYC, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe in a statement sent to our correspondent in Port Harcourt, said the reappointment of Dikio has ended weeks of speculations about the future of the amnesty programme following the expiration of his first tenure.
Ekerefe stated that the IYC was aware of the plans by some enemies of the Niger Delta to scuttle the return of Dikio and thanked the president for not bowing to the pressure but rather listening to the voices of stakeholders in the region.
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He said it is undisputed that in the last one year Dikio gave the amnesty programme a breath of fresh air by instituting major reforms that changed the hitherto negative perception about the PAP.
According to him, the Interim Administrator became the toast of ex-agitators with his prompt payment of their monthly stipends and was also loved by stakeholders in the region because of his constant engagement with them.
“The re-appointment of Col. Milland Dikio (rtd) is one of the best things at the moment to happen to us as Ijaw people and people of the Niger Delta. So, we commend President Muhammadu Buhari for not betraying us in this regard. This is because we were aware of plans to replace Dikio, which would have derailed the amnesty programme.
“It is only those who are truly blind or claim to be blind that will pretend not to see the good works Dikio has done in the last one year. If for anything, the regular payment of the stipends for ex-agitators and the constant regional engagements with leaders and stakeholders.
“But as we thank the president, we also want to state that as a council, we feel that making Dikio substantive administrator would have been better for everyone. This is because the title of interim to our own understanding has limited powers”, he said.
The spokesman of the apex Ijaw youth body also charged Dikio to use his renewed mandate to put on ground practical things to help drive his vision for sustained peace in the Niger Delta.
Ekerefe pointed out that the training and empowerment of the remaining ex-agitators are key and therefore appeal to Dikio to put the various training centres in good shape so the beneficiaries of the programme can have the opportunity to learn and obtain skills to better their lives.
He pledged the support of the IYC for the programmes and policies of Dikio but urge him to also see the Council as partners in progress for the peace, stability and development of the region.
Ekerefe equally used the opportunity to call on Buhari to use the same spirit in the reappointment of Dikio to constitute the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to further douse tension in the region and sustain the existing peace.