The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), established by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua on June 26, 2009, is anchored on a tripod of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) of ex-agitators in the Niger Delta Region.
The primary purpose of the Programme is the rehabilitation of ex-agitators, peace and development of the Niger Delta Region. The PAP was also meant to stabilize the security situation of the region and guarantee uninterrupted oil production.
The Rivers State-born Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) was appointed in August 2020, after erstwhile Coordinator of the PAP, Charles Dokubo was fired over allegations of financial misconduct and mismanagement. Dikio was recently re-appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, for a second term of one year.
Milland Dikio was admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) 21st regular combatant course and voluntarily retired from the Nigerian Army in July 2004 as a Colonel. While in service, he underwent several training programmes including some strategic courses just as he held different command positions. He is an expert in conflict management and peace keeping. He served in peace keeping missions in Cameroon, Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone. He has extensive experience in Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration, having consulted for some multilateral organisations in that capacity.
No doubt, the experience garnered over the years, more than amply prepared Dikio for his present task. No wonder he hit the ground running immediately he was appointed in 2020. The PAP Interim Administrator came on board with a clear sense of direction of what he wanted to do and he immediately went about executing them.
Since Dikio’s assumption of office, payment of the N65,000 stipend to ex-agitators, which used to be a big issue, is now paid as and when due. In the same vein, school fees and other allowances of the presidential amnesty students are paid regularly. In addition, Dikio cleared a 10-month backlog of in-training allowances.
As part of Dikio’s prudent resource management initiative, scholarships and trainings are now limited to only those relevant to the needs of the Niger Delta region. Equally, projects are now prioritised and contracts awarded based strictly on relevance of such projects and the competence of the contractor. Before now about 85% of available funds went for the servicing of contractors, majority of whom are phoney contractors. Dikio has struck a balance between paying contractors on the one hand and paying school fees of students and ex-agitators’ stipend on the other.
He has not only sanitized the programme with his reforms but has put it back on track for the real people who disarmed voluntarily. As part of the sanitisation process, Dikio has carried out a thorough verification exercise that has, among other things, uncovered the padding of the amnesty payroll with over 400 duplicate names. The Presidential Amnesty office is also investigating the authenticity of over 3,000 accounts receiving the N65,000 stipend.
Fraud, corruption, nepotism and the lack of transparency, which were the hallmark of the programme, are now a thing of the past. In addition, Dikio has been able to fight the cabal sabotaging the Programme, to a standstill.
Another master stroke by Dikio is his appointment of ex-agitators into PAP. The import of such a move is that he is trying to make the ex-agitators own the programme and see it as their own. For instance, he has set up a committee consisting of ex- agitators to ensure effective dissemination of information about the scheme to attract expected development to the region.
In fulfilment of one of the mandates of the PAP, since coming on board, Dikio has been able to enthrone uninterrupted oil production in the region. Equally important is the fact that there has been a considerable reduction of illegal bunkering activities in the area.
While calling on Buhari to confirm Dikio as substantive Administrator, coordinator of Rivers State Phase 3 ex-agitators, General Daniel Lawson, aka Don Prof. said the Interim Administrator’s proactive efforts are about to turn a good number of them into businessmen and entrepreneurs with functional cooperative societies. He also said instead of being seen as a threat to the security of the nation, through Dikio’s effort, ex-agitators are now business-oriented people contributing their quota to the nation building effort.
Nigerdeltaconnect joins other well-meaning Niger Delta stakeholders in commending President Mohammadu Buhari for re-appointing Col. Milland Dikio. However, realizing that his powers are limited as an Interim Administrator, we are of the opinion that Dikio’s appointment should be confirmed as a substantive Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme so that he can consolidate on his modest achievements within the space of one year and also to conclude the reforms he has initiated. Above that he has the requisite qualification for the job.
The people of the Niger Delta, including the ex-agitators, who are usually very difficult to please, are all happy with the Interim Administrator. Dikio, who has been variously described as a courageous man with foresight, vision and an impeccable character, has, despite the challenges, been able to command widespread respect among the various stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.
If Dikio has performed creditably well in his first tenure and is widely admired by Niger Deltans, why not give the people what they want by confirming him as a substantive Administrator. That way, peace will prevail in the Niger Delta region.