Victor Okame expresses dismay over Presidential Amnesty Office

Niger Delta militants
Niger Delta militants

Victor Okame a beneficiary of the Presidential Amnesty, has expressed dismay over how the beneficiaries are being treated amongst other issues raised by him in statement titled and sub-titled “Gen. Monguno’s Private Experiment” and “The thoughts of a law-abiding Amnesty Beneficiary”

According to him, “The emergence of Col. Miland Dikio gave us great expectations. We believed something fresh was coming our way. Little did we know that we might be joining another round of politics 101?”

Full text of his thoughts read: “On resumption of office, the new administrator toured the Niger Delta, interacting with stakeholders of the region by spending close to Two Hundred Million Naira on travels and logistics. This is at the cost of fully empowering 50 to 100 of us.

“Who is fooling who? In this Covid-19 era, who consults like that? With the likes of Zoom and other platforms available to the world, who risks his life and wastes the livelihood (money to improve the lives) of 50 to 100 Niger Delta youths on mere travels/ “meet and greets”. This is one of the major reasons most of us are still not empowered, and the Amnesty Programme seems like a never-ending story.

“Contractors and vendors who trained us, empowered us, and carried out other services at that office with their own resources are dropping dead from the trauma of payment delays and loan interests. I hear within the last couple of months more than 3 vendors of the Amnesty office have died from health-related complications, directly connected to their issues with the Amnesty Office and payments. And people are quiet. It’s very interesting that the DFA of the Amnesty office, Mr Ityahuma Isaac Saawua; a Tiv man from Benue State, who knows nothing about our pains in the Niger Delta, is the one who decides who and when to pay. At the end, only contractors who play his tune receive payments. We are following a dangerous path. But that is a story for another day. I will be back with what I know.

“The core mandate of the Amnesty Office and its leadership is to Disarm, Demobilize and Reintegrate the 30,000 repentant Agitators; in a bid to stabilize and maintain peace in the Niger Delta region. Nothing more, nothing less. How difficult is that? Merging this with politics and political activities derails the Programme and its purpose.

“We have watched keenly how the Amnesty Office has been managed since the APC Government came into power. President Buhari did well to continue where his predecessor left off; but the perception of the ‘purpose and status’ of the Programme has been grossly damaged by officials of this government.

“Firstly, the claim by the National Security Adviser, Gen. Babangida Monguno that over N700Bn was wasted by the past leaders of the Programme is not just a slap on our faces, but also an indictment on his part, as the current and previous coordinators of the Programme, during this administration are all his close friends, handpicked by him.

“Since this government came into power nothing positive has been said about the programme. All we hear are accusations of fraud. To say that there is nothing to show for the money that has passed through the programme, is not only false, but an obvious ploy to discredit whatever we do in the Niger Delta.

“We have beneficiaries who became Pilots under Kingsley Kuku’s watch; we have friends who keyed into Gen. T. Boroh’s Agricultural drive, and are now major Rice and Fish farmers; we have students who are encouraged by the opportunity given, inspired by Prof. Charles Dokubo’s educational achievements are Doctors and soon to be Professors. All these were made possible with the resources from the Amnesty office at the instance of the then Coordinators.

“As a people we need to focus on our challenges. Address the real issues and avoid derailing from set goals. This is the only way we will achieve what the Programme was set up for.”

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