Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa
Ijaw National Congress (INC), Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and activist, Ann Kio-Briggs on Tuesday commended the economic schemes introduced by Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Maj-Gen. Barry Ndiomu (retd), to empower ex-agitators.
The President of the INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, said in an interview that the idea of floating a Cooperative Society would enable ex-agitators to have easy access to funds to establish Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
He said such SMEs would aid the economic growth and development of the Niger Delta and the country.
Okaba, who was speaking while making an assessment of Ndiomu’s six-month stewardship as the Interim Administrator of PAP, said the ex-agitators had been given an opportunity to become more useful to themselves and their families.
He said the cooperative scheme and other economic blueprints of Ndiomu would turn ex-agitators to entrepreneurs, who would no longer depend on the monthly N65,000 stipends.
Okaba said: “Ndiomu’s various empowerment scheme is targeted at making the ex-agitators self-reliant. The present boss has also started the process of assessing employment opportunities for ex-militants, who have gotten training from both local and international sources.
“I learned some of them have been pushed into security services, some into the oil companies, and some are even encouraged to form cooperatives with funding so that they can start up their own businesses.
“The Amnesty Programme is taking a new shape. There are serious consultations. He goes down to the stakeholders in their villages and communities, meeting their demands and addressing them as swiftly as possible”.
The National Spokesman of the IYC, Ebilade Ekerefe, attributed the sustained peace in the Niger Delta to the efforts of Ndiomu in addressing the concerns and needs of ex-agitators.
Describing Ndiomu as a man of discipline and courage, Ekerefe also commended him for his consistent interface with stakeholders in the region.
He said: “Maj.-Gen. Ndiomu has also contributed to the sustained peace that we are currently enjoying in the region. Because Ndiomu is a man of discipline, character and courage.
“So, we commend Ndiomu for his consistent interface with stakeholders of the region, which is very key because the program itself is a product of stakeholders’ decisions.
“The president saw capacity and courage in Ndiomu which was what informed the president to appoint him in that capacity. Of course, that has also contributed to his being appointed as chairman of the special panel on crude oil theft.
“He is a man who is committed to making sure that the Amnesty Programme is positioned in achieving the aims and objectives of why it was set up”.
The Ijaw Rights Activist, Ann Kio-Briggs, said Ndiomu’s periodic consultation and engagement with critical stakeholders and regular payments of stipends to ex-agitators had brought a new lease of life to the PAP.
She said: “The areas that Gen. Ndiomu has focused on including prompt and timely payment of stipends and fees of PAP’s scholarship beneficiaries is quite commendable. Within the short period he has been in office, I can say he has tried his best to reposition the programme.
“However, there are still areas that need to be done, including more training programmes for our youths. It is on this note I call on the Federal Government to activate the various training centres, especially the one in Rivers State”.