From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
A former Niger Delta militant leader, Ebikabowei Victor-Ben, popularly called ‘General’ Boyloaf, has said apart from the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dikio (retd), other federal appointees from the Niger Delta, are playing politics with the region’s development.
Victor-Ben particularly berated the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, saying he had turned his ministry and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) into Akwa Ibom State Government House extension.
Speaking on a monitored TV programme, Village Square Africa, the former Niger Delta agitator insisted that only Dikio was genuinely concerned about the peace in the Niger Delta, following his series of engagements with all the stakeholders from the region.
He explained that unlike recent occupants of the PAP’s office, Dikio runs an all-inclusive system, describing his appointment as one of the best things to happen to the PAP and the region.
Victor-Ben said while Akpabio and others were fighting one another for their 2023 ambitions, Dikio was working hard to make the PAP achieve its objectives.
He said: “The only person that is more caring and really wants to help in bringing about genuine peace in the region is the recent Administrator of the Amnesty Programme that was just put in place. Currently the administrator of the amnesty is right on track; but, the rest are not doing anything.
“The present administrator of the amnesty has a listening ear, he has the vast experience. He has travelled wide and worked with diplomats. So, I think Colonel Dikio is the best to mount that position than any other person in the Niger Delta”.
Boyloaf maintained that with the far-reaching reforms the amnesty boss had embarked on, there was no doubt that the PAP would become more result oriented.
He said: “NDDC and the Niger Delta Ministry are doing nothing about bringing development to the region. What they are focusing on is quite different. They are fighting with one another about their personal ambitions.
“The Niger Delta Ministry was created because of the agitations of the Ijaws. But ethnic sentiment has taken over the ministry. Currently, Dikio is right on track. But, the rest are not doing anything. For now, Akpabio and others are not doing anything. Once you go there, it is like you are in Akwa Ibom Government House and that is what is happening in NDDC. So, nothing is going on.
“We are not happy with them. Initially, we wanted to work with them and help them. But, they are just playing politics. They are politicking for 2023; but, we are watching them”.
The former warlord frowned on attempts by the Federal Government to negotiate and possibly grant amnesty to bandits in the country.
He said: “I disagree with the way the Federal Government is handling the issue of bandits and it is unfortunate that some people are comparing them (bandits) with the Niger Delta struggle. Our struggle is quite different from theirs. The Niger Delta people did not kill innocent people.
“We fought for a just cause and the cause we were fighting for was mentioned. We fought for true federalism, marginalization, infrastructural development. But, the bandits have not said what they are fighting for. Kidnapping of school children and women cannot be a just cause.
“So, there is no basis for comparison between the Niger Delta struggle and what is going on now. The UN Charter also supported our agitation. Don’t forget there are three legal ways of carrying arms.
“First, is to maintain your territorial integrity; secondly, is joint security arrangement like NATO, ECOMOG and so on and lastly emancipation. When people are marginalized by their government, they are very right to take up arms and free themselves. So, there is no relationship between the struggle of ex-agitators and bandits”.