From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Colonel Milland Dixon Dikio (Rtd), says the era of servicing contractors and their cronies are gone for good.
He said that the PAP will no longer patronize contractors at the expense of the real owners of the programme which are the ex-agitators, just as it will no longer fund the scholarship of students in areas that are not of comparative advantage to the region.
Dikio stated this on Friday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, during a parley with the leadership of the first phase of the PAP.
He decried the existing situation which allows contractors to gulp 85 percent of the total funds accrued to the PAP, while those the programme was instituted for are left with the remaining fraction, which he lamented is hardly enough for training and empowering them.
His words: “The PAP will no longer be contractor-driven. We are not going to engage in tokenism. I am not going to award contracts or go into projects just for the sake of it. Never, I won’t. Rather I will focus on “train, mentor and employ”.
“That’s our new philosophy. The same applies to scholarship. Scholarship is a privilege and not a right. We will focus on training in those areas that we have comparative advantage. Hence, rather than train our people as pilots where they will end up looking for non-existent jobs after undergoing such an expensive training, I will rather train our people in the maritime area where we have natural, latent abilities”
“We are adopting the Igbo apprenticeship system – train, mentor and employ. It’s an end to end package. There are outstanding 8,000 ex-agitators registered, captured in the amnesty programme that are yet to receive training. Those 8,000 people are going to be our focus. We will also focus on those who have been trained and have not been empowered.
“For the rest 22,000 who have been trained and empowered, the question I often ask is where are they ? How can you claim to have trained such huge number of persons and yet the impact is not felt in the region. “
In his remarks, Speaker of the Bayelsa State of House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abraham Ingobere, who attended the meeting as a member of the first phase leadership, applauded the Interim Administrator for his focused leadership since his assumption of office.
He said the prompt payment of monthly stipends to ex-agitators is one effort of Dikio that deserves to be commended, stressing that the beneficiaries are happier for it.
Some of the notable first phase leaders who attended the meeting were; Pastor Rueben, Paul Eris also known as Ogunboss, Joshua Macaiver, Felix Bonny-Ayah, a lawmaker in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, amongst others.