From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa and Tony John, Port Harcourt
The new Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Barry Ndiomu, has scheduled various meetings with critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.
This is even as the Watchdog for Progressives Ijaw (WPI) has supported Ndiomu and his new mandate to actualise the original intent of the programme.
It was gathered that the amnesty boss would hold talks with some governors of the region from October 14.
A source at the amnesty office said it would be Ndiomu’s maiden official tour of the region and stakeholders’ consultations since his appointment as the interim administrator.
The source, who spoke in confidence, said the amnesty boss would also meet some leaders of former agitators such as Government Ekpemupolo also known as Tompolo and the King of Okochiri in Rivers State, Ateke Tom.
He said the amnesty boss would use the opportunity to unveil his plans for the programme and also address the issue of winding it down which has been a subject of discourse since his appointment.
The source said Ndiomu would have special interactions with the leaders of phases one, two and three former agitators, traditional rulers and security chiefs.
He said: “Already, there is tension in the region, especially among genuine former agitators, who are apprehensive that the Federal Government is planning to shut down the programme. These planned engagements will help to douse the tension because the former agitators will have the opportunity to hear directly from the interim administrator and ask relevant questions.
“It is hoped these meetings will calm frayed nerves as they are designed to help all stakeholders better understand the mission of the amnesty boss,” he said.
When contacted, PAP’s media consultant, Donu Kogbara, confirmed the arrangement, saying the tour is part of Ndiomu’s plan to have all stakeholders on the same page for the actualisation of the programme’s mandate.
Meanwhile, WPI, in a statement signed in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by its Publicity Secretary, Charles Taylor, said Ndiomu deserved the support of all stakeholders in the region as his mission was in line with improving the peace, progress and development of the region.
Taylor, a former factional president of the Ijaw Youths Council (Worldwide), regretted some persons were deliberately making insinuations and misrepresenting Ndiomu to pit him against critical stakeholders in the region.
He said part of the mandate of Ndiomu was to clear all obstacles delaying the progress and smooth operation of PAP, insisting that those, who had been trained and empowered were supposed to have exited the programme.
“Those flying the kite of terminating PAP are simply trying to create confusion and bad blood in the region. Our interaction with Ndiomu so far has shown he has come with a mandate to refocus the programme to actualise its original mandate.
“It is obvious the programme has derailed from its original intent and purpose. In conflict zones across the world where disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) was introduced, it ended within five years.
Taylor said it was unacceptable and unimaginable that PAP had continued to carry the same number of beneficiaries for 13 years.