Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has tasked the new interim administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme in Abuja, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (Retd) to give priority to human capital development in the region in line with the objectives of the programme.
Dikio had visited the ex-president to signal the commencement of consultative meetings with critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta, having earlier met with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Jonathan advised Dikio to ensure that scholarships for degree programmes within and outside the country, alongside payment of monthly stipends to beneficiaries of the programme were given deserved priority.
The former President urged the new leader of the Amnesty Programme to avoid the temptation of taking on responsibilities beyond the funding capacity of his office.
“One thing I should tell you also is that you should not bite more than you can chew as the saying goes. You should accommodate the projects which you think you can effectively carry out with your budget,” he said.
Jonathan added that the administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission and Presidential Amnesty Office have been of concern to stakeholders even though the Amnesty Programme had fared better in terms of pursuing the objectives that inspired its establishment. He said if 70 per cent of funds budgeted for the two agencies were utilised for the intended purposes, the Niger Delta region would have been better.
Dikio hailed Dr. Jonathan for his historic role as the first President from the Niger Delta and midwifing the entire amnesty process as then Vice President to late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
He added that his visit to the former president was in furtherance to his consultation with critical stakeholders in the region on how best to approach and tackle the task of productively running the office to the benefit of the region and Nigeria. Dikio highlighted the priorities areas of his vision to include the restoration of the mandate of the Amnesty Programme to its original intent and taking service to the Niger Delta where the ex-agitators are domiciled; training of ex-agitators to become entrepreneurs who will act as agents of change thus reversing the narrative of a people dependent on stipends to self-actualised employers of labor and net contributors to the economic prosperity of the Niger Delta region and coordinating and cooperating with relevant agencies set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria to compliment the efforts of the Amnesty Programme to ensure the development and security of the Niger Delta making it the most secure place to live and do business in Nigeria.