By Ebi Perekeme
As part of efforts to curb crime and criminality within the Niger-Delta region, the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has appealed to the Federal Government to revisit the disarmament and demobilisation phase of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), lamenting proliferation of light weapons in the region.
The governor also assured that governors in the Niger Delta region would support the new vision of the interim administrator of programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (Rtd).
Diri, who spoke when Dikio paid him a visit in Government House, Yenagoa, as part of his tour of the Niger Delta, advised the administrator to explore a different approach of appointing liaison officers in all the states in the region to work with the government of each state.
He requested that the Amnesty Office should furnish his government with the list of ex-agitators from Bayelsa who have been trained and those yet to be trained in the programme.
Insisting that PAP would make more progress when it works in synergy with the state governments of the region, Diri commended Dikio for soliciting their cooperation and urged him to set up a functional regional office preferably in Bayelsa.
The governor further warned against incessant protests by ex-agitators in the Niger Delta against the programme decrying the looting of the Kaiama training centre by aggrieved persons.
Addressing Dikio, the governor said: “We are sure going by your pedigree and what we have heard about you, you will not fail us. God has brought you back divinely to run this Programme. With your wealth of experience, I believe that you will sustain the gains made, especially in the area of peace.
“I am aware that this programme is at its very important stage which is reintegration but it is even questionable if we have completed the Disarmament and Demobilisation stage. This is because the prevalence of light weapons in the region is still very alarming. We need to mop up the small and light weapons in the region.
“I believe you have studied your briefs and this tour you have embarked on is good because it will afford you to see things for yourself. Appoint liaison officers to work with the state governments so you can do things differently.
“We don’t have the data of how many Bayelsa ex-agitators were in the PAP. Please we need that data. Supply us the names of the beneficiaries. Total number of our ex-agitators trained so far and the number of those that have benefitted from your scholarship. Set up a functional zonal office and if I want to be sentimental in Yenagoa”.
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The governor added: “This is not the time to play politics or politicise the PAP. If we do so, it will affect all of us. Let nobody deceive you that because we are all PDP governors in the region, we will not work with you. We will work with you. For me I am always ready to support you and work to ensure you succeed.
“Senator Diri condemned the penchant for blocking the east-west road at the slightest provocation. It is not every time you protest and block road. Are we helping ourselves? People went to loot and vandalized the Kaiama camp, is that part of the struggle? That is a dishonor to Isaac Boro, our hero. Let that spirit leave us. We should be positive about development so I call on our ex-agitators to be good ambassadors of our region.
“Col. Dikio has come with a new spirit. I believe the Kaiama training centre will come back to life. I congratulate you on your appointment and urge you not to relent. Constant engagement and dialogue is needed. You know the challenges already that are facing us”.
Earlier in his remarks, Dikio said he was on a mission to return the programme to the region, adding that his team had the capacity to change the narratives.
He said: “We are here in Bayelsa because of the ‘‘back-to-the-region’’ tour. We have met with some critical stakeholders and also held a summit to discuss the future of the PAP.
“I am here basically to sell a new vision, a vision that we can change the paradigm.
A toxic environment is antithetical to development. Even if we are right we shouldn’t shoot ourselves in the foot.