Professor Charles Dokubo, who was recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, as the new coordinator of Presidential Amnesty Programme for ex-Niger Delta militants, recently spoke with some select Journalists in Lagos, on his vision and mission in his new assignment. Dokubo, who was formerly the Director of Research and Studies at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), solicited for the cooperation of all the stakeholders in the region, while pledging to serve the people of the oil-rich, Niger Delta to best of his abilities. excerpts;
As the new coordinator, what are you bringing to the table?
We are going to redefine the vision and mission of the amnesty programme. The amnesty thing is a very big organisation, as it deals with the social provision for Niger Delta people.
Whatever we are doing, therefore, we must try as much as possible to make sure it impacts positively on the lives of Niger Delta people.
We don’t have to do anything and almost everything for everybody. We must be very careful and make sure we put up a new focus to redirect Niger Delta issues, especially the amnesty programme.
The amnesty programme has been bedevilled right from inception with all manner of allegations. For instance, there was the alleged massive padding of amnesty payroll with ghost names alongside other issues. How do you intend to handle all these?
I am just assuming office and haven’t really settled so to say. The fact is that I just have to look at the totality of the amnesty programme and all that it takes.
It is not the selective adoption of one position and trying to redesign and redefine it, but to take a holistic view of the Niger Delta issues. And even if there are ghost names in the amnesty programme as is being alleged, we would try our best to remove those names.
This is the work I am supposed to do here. And I will try my very best to make sure I do the job, so that it will be shown that nothing bad or nothing hidden is in the project.
All these allegations will be looked into and we will ensure that we weed out all false names and give the programme a proper focus. We will also streamline it and make sure it is run efficiently and effectively.
How do you intend to deal with the stakeholders in this region, especially the traditional rulers, who are divided between the Pan-Niger Delta Forum and the Pan-Niger Delta People’s Congress? They are fighting to control activities in the region…
As far as I am concerned, all the stakeholders in the region will be gathered and spoken to, so that we will be able to buy them into our programmes. Whatever leadership this people have, I presume it is for the well-being of the generality of the people of Niger Delta Region.
I am sure the aim and desire of whatever group or groups they have in the region is to make sure that Niger Delta People are well taken care of. Let us see things in this light.
We will talk to all concerned and make sure we key them into the new programme in order to and drive it. This is the way we are going to go. We are never going to look at factions. We are only going to concern ourselves with the holistic nature of the programme.
How soon should Niger Delta people expect tangible actions from you?
I was only given this job on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. So, I need to first carefully go through all the handover notes from my predecessor.
You do not expect me to just jump into a minefield and do what is not proper? I am going to take my time and buy my time in such a way that I will do all the things expected of me and impact the people positively, as well as see to the well-being of the Niger Delta people.
What should the Niger Delta people expect from your leadership?
I expect cooperation from every Niger Delta indigene. The fact is that whatsoever programme is being driven by the Federal Government is for the Niger Delta people, and if we don’t use the facility and provide services for our people, then we are not treating our own people right.
Irrespective of the colour of government, what is for the Niger Delta people is for the Niger Delta people.
So, it is for them to use it and achieve all they want to do. You don’t selectively adopt projects for the Niger Delta people because if you do that, you short-change them. This is part of the focus that I have.