Amnesty chief seeks end to N65,000 stipend regime

 

Amnesty chief seeks end to N65000 stipend regime
It is time for former agitators to start earning money rather than depending on N65,000 monthly stipends, Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), said yesterday.

Describing the stipend as inadequate, he urged them to put on their thinking caps and key into PAP’s vision of making them successful entrepreneurs to enable them to exit the stipend regime.

Dikio spoke to leaders of the second phase of the amnesty programme in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

According to him, the ex-agitators had allowed the stipends to become their stronghold, restricting them from harnessing their entrepreneurial potential.

He said it was only reasonable to end the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) aspect of the programme to begin a post-DDR phase of the scheme.

Dikio said for the region to move forward, the scheme must be changed from ‘amnesty’ to the Niger Delta Stabilisation Programme (NDSP), insisting that with the current status “there are things we can’t do and there are countries we can’t enter.”

He stated: “We must establish the Niger Delta Stabilisation Programme. We must change that name, terminate the DDR and open another thing. I have operated DDR in Cameroon and Angola.

“As far as this name ‘amnesty’ remains, there are things that we can’t do and there are countries we can’t enter. We can’t make progress sitting in one place. My job is to make you think beyond the N65,000 mentality.”

He said the PAP was offering a platform to the ex-agitators through the cooperative model to enable them to develop and own functional businesses.

He said all the beneficiaries of the scheme must organise themselves under cooperatives.

“You must think of how you can graduate from stipends after 11 years. I am offering you a platform. You have to form yourselves into cooperatives. You are better than this stronghold of N65,000,” the amnesty boss added.

Dikio also asked the ex-agitors and other youths in the Niger Delta to stop blocking major roads for protests and issuing ultimatums to oil companies to leave the region.

He said such public display of violent behaviour was part of the reasons most persons outside the region claimed the Niger Delta was not safe.

He further stated: “This kind of behaviour is making people say here is not safe. I was to organise a workshop and I chose Port Harcourt, Owerri and Warri. But they turned it down and I said I would not hold the conference in Abuja. If you are not choosing any of the venues then keep your conference. They later chose Port Harcourt.

“We must all begin to think of how to bring companies back to the Niger Delta. If they are not here, your PhD is in vain. We have told you that after your scholarship you must work first for Niger Delta for two years. It is up to you and me to make the Niger Delta a better place.

“We will graduate the programme to Niger Delta Stabilisation Programme. Do you want to stay in a house where the landlord wakes up every time and asks you to leave? Then why are you quick in giving oil companies a quit notice?

“Why will you go and block roads? What about the people passing through the road? If you want to prosper, do you open your shop or close it? You must open it.”