TRACKING>>Some unhealthy development in the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) has revealed a grand conspiracy against Ijaw people. The conspirators always work round the clock to frustrate and also push out any Ijaw man that is appointed to the helm of the Amnesty office. These conspirators and collaborators are deeply angry that the programme was not designed for only Ijaw people so only Ijaws should not be appointed to the headship of the office. It is sad and very unfortunate that these persons and external sponsors have failed to appreciate the leading role Ijaw people have always played in the struggle for the emancipation cum liberation of the entire Niger Delta region from economic and political servitude.
It is on record that Ijaws are the first Africans that had contact and trade relationship with the European merchants and explorers who were our equal trade partners and when trading in the Niger Delta became very lucrative and highly competitive among competiting European nations and companies, some outsmarted their co-competitors by entering into trade treaties for control and monopoly of trade routes. It is also on record that when the European merchants took undue advantage of the sincerity, openness, hospitality and goodwill of our great people, our fathers resisted their imperialistic and exploitative tendencies. The resistance led to the capture and killing of some of the white traders and their agents. A reprisal attack sponsored and supervised by the Britain government and carried out by the British Armed Forces led to the massacre of over 2000 people mostly women and children. That ethnic cleansing and genocide that received global outrage and condemnation is called the ‘AKASSA RAID OF 1895’.
In the independent and even contemporary Nigerian State, Ijaw people have been in the forefront of the struggle and we have suffered the highest level of casualties. Thousands of Ijaw people have been killed and maimed for life. Our innocent daughters and women including our wives and mothers have been raped during crises with the Nigerian government. Many Ijaw communities have been totally razed down and properties worth billions of Naira have been destroyed and looted. The above is beside the ongoing environmental and economic genocide against our great people. There is a deliberate pollution and destruction of our environment including the aquatic and wildlife, flora and fauna and the entire ecosystem. It is obvious that our great people always serve as sacrificial lambs whereas benefits accruing to the region are always shared by all and in most cases, our great people are always outsmarted.
While the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), like other interventionist palliative in the Niger Delta has inherent faults, the same programme has helped thousands of young men and women to acquire education both local and abroad some up to doctorate level. Thousands of Niger Delta youths have acquired skills in various trades and skills that have made many gainfully employed in reputable companies, public and private institutions, while so many have become self-reliant. As we read this piece, hundreds of young people have been trained as commercial Pilots who are now flying aeroplanes all over the world. Countless number of young people have been trained as Captains and Sea Sailors and they are navigating round the world. Beside the above, a lot of people have been employed or engaged as trainers, contractors and vendors in the programme.
These success stories cannot be told without the mention and acknowledgement of the unquantifiable and irreplaceable role Ijaw people played that led to the proclamation of the Presidential Amnesty by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua which led in no small measure in restoring peace to the Niger Delta and in the Stabilization of crude oil and gas production.
It is however sad that the programme has not achieved it’s major target due to internal sabotage and antagonism. It is a known fact that there are persons who have formed themselves as a cartel in that office such that nothing works without their express permission that goes with financial inducements. There are recurring sad situations where these persons sponsor individuals and groups to fight against any Special Adviser and Coordinator that tries to go against their will and wishes. For these class of people, they do not care about the success of the programme. They are only interested in the huge amount of money they make at the expense and detriment of the people of the Niger Delta, Ijaws in particular especially the target beneficiaries of the programme.
Great Ijaw sons like Dr. Kingsley Kuku, General Paul Boroh even the current Coordinator, Prof. Charles Quaker-Dokubo are victims of these cartel and mafias who are bent on sabotaging and destroying the programme. This group is presently headed by Mr. Illem Ukam, the Director of Finance and Administration (DFA) who frustrates most payments especially those of contractors and vendors that refuse to give him ten per cent cut. The activities of Mr. Ukam is not limited to only contractors and vendors, but also to the programme generally. A sad situation where he demands to be given ten per cent of every budgetary funds and allocations that are released to the office. Himself and his cronies have more or less held the programme to ransome such that nothing works without them. It so bad that he chooses whoever to pay and the exact time to pay against directive of the Coordinator who is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Accounting Officer of the programme.
These people are deeply angry that Prof. Dokubo has opened up the place such that every Tom, Dick and Harry, many ordinary Niger Deltans now secure contracts in the office. The anger has led to sponsorship of campaigns of calumny and antagonism against Prof. Dokubo that has recorded enormous successes within the one year and one month he has been on the saddle.
Their present move is to push Prof. Dokubo out and bring in, a non-Ijaw man. Prof. Dokubo who attended the prestigious University of Teesside, Middlesbrough and University of Bradford where he bagged a Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern History and Politics, Masters degree in Peace Studies and Doctorate degree in Nuclear Weapon Proliferation is one of the most renowned professors in the country and a worthy Ijaw son that is so passionate about the plights, sufferings, welfare, growth and development of Ijaw people and the entire Niger Delta. But like every other human, Prof. Dokubo has a fair share of flaws and weaknesses yet in the midst of all that, he is so committed to the success of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
While it is difficult to see successors continue or complete projects that were initiated by their predecessors, Prof. Dokubo has completed and commissioned countless projects that were started by his predecessors. Beyond completion of projects that were initiated by his predecessors, he has also built one of the finest and most equipped Vocations and Skills Acquisition and Training Centre in Ondo State. This again, attest to his selfless disposition, otherwise he should have located such outstanding vocation centre in his state, community and area.
It is important for Ijaw people and other Niger Deltans to rally round him for the programme to succeed. There is clear manifestation of relative peace in the region and increase in crude oil and gas production because of the great work he is doing collaboratively with other.