I want to ask a question, please. Is there anything about the human being, especially, the Niger Delta species, which makes him averse to good and positve development? Please, think deeply before you respond. Before President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and his deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, worked out and delivered the Amnesty Programme for the Niger Delta, the popular refrain from the area was that people of the region would rather that any monetary intervention by oil companies operating in the region be shared out to people, than have roads, bridges and schools, hospitals built with it. That narrative was also very popular in confrontations between oil companies and communities in the region. To a large extent, every restive action against oil communities was explained away as having happened because of the refusal of such companies to hand cash meant for community development over to some persons in the com- munities. However, the decision of the Yar’Adua government to create the Amnesty Programme put an end to such narrative and birthed a new era of purposeful resource management and human capital development.
But since July 11, 2009, when the Amnesty Programme was officially created by Yar’Adua with able support of Jonathan, it has had four chief executives: Timi Alaibe, Kingsley Kuku, Gen. Paul Boroh and Prof. Charles Quakers Dokubo. That equates to four chief executives in approximately 11 years. Mathematically, this comes to some 33 months each. But Prof. Dokubo was not even allowed to have that length of time before he was suspended over allegations of fraud now said to be spurious and unfounded. I will come back to that shortly. Both Alaibe and Kuku had ample time to translate and implement their visions for Niger Delta youths. Prof. Dokubo, a consummate professional, did not have that opportunity. He was yanked off at a time when his plans were already being translated to concrete for the region. That would make you ask what exactly the Niger Deltan wants.
If you do not know Prof. Dokubo, you would easily dismiss him as one of those who seek public purse to validate themselves. But before accepting President Muhammadu Buhari’s invitation to head the Amnesty Programme following a thorough search, Prof. Dokubo, an indigene of Abonnema in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, was with the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, as a director. Prior to that, he was a research professor also at NIIA, where he published extensively in his area of interest, and authored or edited various scholarly books and journal articles, including “Nigeria’s Security Interest in Africa” and “Nuclear Proliferation and the Probability of Nuclear War: The Effective ness of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime.” He also published “Defence Policy of Nigeria: Capability and Context.”
Before these, he did Advanced Levels at Hud- dersfield Technical College in West Yorkshire and was later admitted to the University of Teesside in Middleborough. Here he earned his first degree in modern history and politics. He proceeded to the University of Bradford for his master’s degree, which was in Peace Studies, and later did his doctorate in Nuclear Weapon Proliferation and Control at the University of Bradford. With such invaluable credentials, the richest among the pack of four, Prof. Dokubo agreed to go add value to the Amnesty Pro- gramme but is now dented by the penchant to pull down the good in a manner to suggest that such high office is not for people with unimpeachable character who are also focused on their mandates.
For instance, a report in the Vanguard newspaper of August 14, 2019, by Governance Fact Check, titled “The many unspoken strides of Prof. Charles Dokubo,” traced Dokubo’s impact at the Amnesty Progmamme to include “construction of five vocational training/reintegration centres across states in the Niger Delta; completion, equipment and activation of the oil and gas vocational training centre in Agadagba- Obon, Ondo State, and the basic skills vocational training centre at Boro Town, Bayelsa State;
and also, the implementation of the agricultural vocational training centre in Gelegele, Edo State, which foundation laying ceremony took place on February 15, 2019.”
The Governance Fact Check group found that Prof. Dokubo had also moved “to complete the power and energy vocational training centre and the Maritime Vocational Training Centre in Bomadi, Delta State, and Oboama, Rivers State, respectively” as well as “enrolled 1,401 persons as trainees in various key skill sets in the last one year in office, while 1,165 persons received entrepreneurial start-up packs after being severally trained.”
“On our fact-finding visit on the various activities of the programme under Prof. Dokubo, especially amidst several allegations of misappropriation, we were shocked to notice that 1,230 beneficiaries of the programme have been offered fully-funded scholarship and enrolled in 11 partnering institutions of higher learning in the country, while 207 students have been spread to over 60 institutions in more than 18 countries in January 2019 alone. In May this year, we found out that over 357 jobs have been secured, cutting across civil service, oil servicing firms, aviation crop spray, hospitality management and underwater welding.
“Asides the job placement and Interna- tional Development Partners Engagement Unit saddled with the strategic responsibility of catering for the local and international job needs of persons registered under the amnesty programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo also secured NAFDAC’S approval to use 23 technology incubation centres for cluster manufacturing by agro trained beneficiaries of the programme with a train-the-trainers sustainability initiative. As part of his re-insertion plans, Prof. Dokubo is finalising plans to certify agric-based trainees and beneficiaries of the scheme as Amnesty Programme Training consultants for agric-based contracts and future agric-based training pro- grammes. Also to curb the menace of contract scam, Prof. Dokubo invoked an implementation of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act, which deters and metes out penalties for contractors who sublet contracts of the Amnesty Office to third parties,” the group further stated.
What the group found is suspected not to be materially different from the findings of the investigative committee set up to probe into petitions and allegations against Prof. Dokubo, leading to a call by a member representing Yenagoa/Kolokuna/Opokuma of Bayelsa State at the House of Representatives, Prof. Steve Azaiki, for his urgent reinstatement. Making the call recently in Abuja, Prof. Azaiki argued that too frequent change in the leadership of the programme was detrimental to the successful implementation of its visions.
“There is reason for setting up the Presidential Amnesty Office and it is only when the head of the office has time that he will effectively inter- pret the mandate. Bur what we see is that none of the coordinators is allowed sufficient time before the person is removed. It is not good for our region. It has negatively affected the impact of thatstrategicoffice,”Azaikisaid,whilecallingon Niger Delta leaders to rise and demand for Prof. Dokubo’s reinstatement. Azaiki’s call is deeply informed. It is not impossible that the probe of Prof. Dokubo has yielded anything negative. However, for a man who is seen as a threat to political empires, and a hurdle to free-flowing cash from the about N45b annual budget of the Amnesty Programme, denting his image and getting him out of the way may be a way to enthrone a leadership that answers to certain calls. Those who rose against Dokubo know he is never game for the clandestine and would rather fight for the greater good of the Niger Delta region and its people than allow a clique of desperates to feast on funds of the agency.