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The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has thrown its weight behind all the reforms in the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) especially the new vision of PAP’s Interim Administrator, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) to transform the ex-agitators into entrepreneurs.

Appraising the administrative style of Dikio since his assumption of office, the forum observed that the beneficiaries of the programme and other critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta region had continued to speak well of his performance and visionary leadership.

A statement signed on Wednesday by Dikio’s Special Adviser on Media, Neotaobase Egbe, said PANDEF spoke when its executive members led by its National Chairman and former Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Emmanuel Essien, paid a courtesy visit to the amnesty boss in Abuja.

L-R Hon Ken Robinson, National Publicity Secretary, PANDEF, Chief Thompson. K Okorotie Deputy National Chairman, Col Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) Interim Administrator, Senator Emmanuel Ebok- Essien the new National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF and Dr Alfred Mulade, National Secretary

Essien, who read the position of PANDEF, particularly commended Dikio’s new vision  of transforming ex-agitators and beneficiaries of the programme into entrepreneurs and employable citizens to make them contributors to the economy of the region and the nation.

He said to actualize the vision, Dikio introduced a new model of train, employ and mentor and the concept of constituting ex-agitators into cooperatives in the areas of maritime security, food security and maritime transport.

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Essien said the new approach would help the ex-agitators break away from the fetters of dependency and crime, adding that PANDEF was happy that the administrator recently engaged some beneficiaries into the workforce of PAP.

Describing the development as examplary, Essien said it would help to allay the fears over the employability and demeanour of ex-agitators and encourage other agencies and departments of government as well as the private sector to employ the beneficiaries.

He said PANDEF also applauded Dikio’s idea to set up the Strategic Communication Committee (SCC) to address issues of misinformation about the programme and the region.

He appealed to the amnesty boss to consider setting up a proper monitoring and evaluation structure to validate the progress of the beneficiaries, projects and programmes of PAP.

Addressing Dikio, Essien said: “Your assignment is of great importance to the Niger Delta. Whatever happens here has a huge ripple effect on the region and would help to either sustain or hamper the relative peace in the region.

“Fortunately, as we stated in our letter to you, we are pleased with the report of a paradigm shift in the administration and operations of the Presidential Amnesty Programme since you took over.

“Your strategy of regular engagement with the ex-agitators and beneficiaries of the programme is commendable. We are aware that the PAP’s administrators before you never had such robust engagement with the boys. And perhaps more appreciable for obvious reasons, is the regular and timely payment of the monthly stipends.

“We request of you, please, do not allow anyone to dent your enviable records and pedigree. You are doing a good job but expectedly not everyone would be happy that you are changing the status quo. Therefore, please be conscious of the fact that your last two predecessors were removed in manners demeaning of the region’s psyche”.

While calling on Dikio to address the delay in payments of local schools and institutions participating in the training of beneficiaries, Essien called on all stakeholders in the Niger Delta to support the good work of the amnesty boss.

He said PANDEF had in the last four years continued to stimulate efforts to sustain the relative peace in the region through various interventions and engagements with stakeholders.

In his response, Dikio harped on the need for partnership saying more positive results would be achieved if all stakeholders worked as a team. 

He said the conversation on the Niger Delta Recovery Plan must be broadened and that other aspects of the training must be explored, especially in the oil and gas sector, food and agriculture, maritime security and marine transport. 

He also stressed that delegates needed to be strategically empowered with authentic certifications to enable them compete with counterparts in other parts of the country.

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