Succour came the way of residents of impacted communities during the Niger Delta crises as the Presidential Amnesty Programme moved a step from its core mandate with the distribution of various items as starter packs to the people as part of its empowerment programme.
The exercise, which involved thousands of recipients from various communities in Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Cross Rivers, Imo, Ondo, Akwa Ibom and Abia state, commenced in Warri, Delta state, on Friday, at the Wellington Hotel.
According to Murphy Ganagana, Special Assistant (Media) to Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, no fewer than 177 persons profiled from various communities for each of the 20 distribution centres across states in the Niger Delta received items for various trade areas which included welding equipment, tailoring, catering, deep freezers, and generators of different sizes.
Prof. Dokubo, while officially flagging off the empowerment programme in Abonnema, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, on Sunday, said the gesture was a show of President Muhammadu Buhari’s love for people of the oil-rich region.
“Having served in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in the course of his military career, President Muhammadu Buhari is conversant with the unpleasant situation of the Niger Delta people and he is committed to turning around the narrative. President Buhari loves you and will ensure that the Niger Delta is stabilized and gets its right place in the country, especially in terms of infrastructural development.
“The fact that he sustained the Amnesty Programme despite intense pressure from some quarters is an evidence of his love for the Niger Delta people and I urge you to turn out en-mass in the forthcoming elections to cast your ballot and return him for a second term to enable him do more for our people,” Dokubo said.
He warned recipients of the various items against selling what they got, but to make judicious use of them to earn a living.
“This is a special empowerment for people who are not among the 30, 000 beneficiaries captured in the Presidential Amnesty Programme; it is meant for people in crises impacted communities in the Niger Delta. It is to demonstrate that the Amnesty Programme is for all the people of Niger Delta, and we care for you,” he added.
Residents in various communities from Delta, Rivers, and Bayelsa states had benefitted from the distribution exercise held in Warri, Opukiri, Ogwashukwu, Abonnema, Degema, and Buguma, even as the programme continues this week at other centres, including Gelegele and Auchi in Edo State, Yakkur/Calabar South, Cross River State; Eket/Ikot-Ikpene, Akwa Ibom State, and Ohaji Egbema/Owerri in Imo State.
Others are Ilaje/Okitikpupa, Ondo State, as well as Ukwa East/West and Umuahia North/South, Abia State.
Speaking on behalf of recipients of items at Warri distribution centre, community leader in Ogbeinbin, Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State, Chief Solomon Ogumogu, commended Prof. Dokubo for the initiative.
He said: “We are very happy. We are happy for what is happening today and what we are seeing physically right here. Since the beginning of the Amnesty Programme 2009 we have never experienced anything like this before.
“Why am saying this is that the Amnesty Programme was targeted at those involved in the armed struggle, the people that carried arm, fighting for their freedom, but majority of communities in the Niger Delta had been neglected.
“No coordinator of Amnesty Programme had ever remembered people in the Niger Delta who didn’t carry arms but today, we are thanking Prof. Charles Dokubo for remembering communities affected while militancy lasted.
“By giving us items, today we are so happy and we also want to thank President Buhari for appointing a visionary leader like Prof. Charles Dokubo.”
In Degema, Rivers State, the traditional ruler of Degema Kingdom, His Excellency, King Reuben Zechariah Amos, Peika V11, the Onu-Onyan Ekein of Udemaka, urged the Federal Government to sustain and adequately fund the Amnesty Programme for effective transformation of the Niger Delta.
He said Dokubo’s appointment as Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme was a divine intervention to uplift the Niger Delta region, just as he commended him for his vision and fresh initiatives, including the commissioning of the Basic Skills Oil and Gas Vocational Training Centre at Agadagba-Obon, Ondo State, and the Vocational Training Centre, Kaiama, scheduled to be launched on Thursday, February 14.