By Murphy Ganagana
President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of Professor Charles Quaker Dokubo as Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs and Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) in March, is perhaps the most cheering news this year for the people of Niger Delta.
It demonstrated the President’s commitment to turn around the sad narrative of a long deprived and impoverished oil-rich region, using the amnesty programme as a purveyor.
His choice of a new pilot for the programme further indicated President Buhari’s determination to clean the mess at the Amnesty Office from where unpleasant reports had emanated.
Born in Abonnema, Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, Dokubo, an erudite professor of international repute, is not a stranger to the Niger Delta debacle. With a first degree in Modern History & Politics from the University of Teesside, Middleborough; a Masters in Peace Studies, University of Bradford, and a doctorate in Nuclear Weapon Proliferation and Control, he has a thorough grasp of the Niger Delta situation. He is deeply-rooted and experienced for the office, setting out from the top-flight Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Lagos, where he was a Research Professor.
Epitome of excellence
An epitome of excellence, Professor Dokubo is conscious of the gargantuan task on his shoulders. He has a firm resolve to make a difference. “Today, we are gathered here to take a major step in the ongoing efforts by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari to deepen peace, safety and security in the Niger Delta, using the instrumentalities of the Presidential Amnesty Programme for former agitators in the region. I am truly delighted by the confidence the President has reposed in me to take the Amnesty Programme, particularly the critical reintegration phase to the next level. Previous heads of the programme, in my humble view, have done their bit and possibly their best. It behoves us to improve on what was bequeathed to us based on lessons learnt so far.The President and indeed all Nigerians expect a much more robust and impactful Amnesty Programme,” he remarked at the inauguration of committee he constituted to review the PAP on assumption of office.
Barely two months of mounting the saddle, there is palpable anxiety, particularly from ex-agitators and delegates for educational programmes within the country and offshore. It is understandable. They had been owed arrears of stipends, tuition fees and allowances before Professor Dokubo assumed office. There are also several pending issues which they want sorted out with the speed of lightening. But they need to show understanding and exercise a measure of patience.
Against the backdrop of the circumstances that necessitated his appointment, he does not need to be forewarned to avoid the proverbial banana peel by treading cautiously. Standing as a wedge, he has to draw a bold and clear line from the past. He has a vision and mission: refocus the Amnesty Programme to its original mandate. But in charting a new course, he has to avoid the pitfalls of the past. On assumption of office, he received handover notes which contained a maze of words and figures that threw up questions without answers. Professor Dokubo had to clear the fog in the operations of the Amnesty Office before taking further steps in his transformation agenda. This, no doubt, required a bit of time, support and patience of stakeholders. Therefore, he was not expected to go on a voyage to disaster by blasting on full throttle immediately after his appointment. His first move after perusing the handover documents unveiled the new face of the Amnesty Programme, as he opened a window of access to his thoughts:
“I wish to use the opportunity of the inauguration of this committee to underscore the compelling need to recalibrate and reboot the Presidential Amnesty Programme to meet current realities in the Niger Delta region and Nigeria at large. I have said it severally that when Mr. President graciously appointed me to head the Amnesty Programme, I do not intend to run a one-man show. I am very conscious of the fact that the region, like most other parts of Nigeria, is a repository of intellectuals and innovative thinkers. Given my resolve to put my best foot forward in carrying out the assignment our great nation has given me, it is pursuant to this resolve that I have invited some of the best minds I know to help me and, indeed, the Federal Government of Nigeria, to begin the process of charting a new course for the Amnesty Programme,” he told members of the Professor Ayibaemi Spiff-led Review Committee.Continue reading.
Dokubo: New Dawn For Amnesty Programme
By Murphy Ganagana