Sir: About two years ago, when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Colonel Milland Dixon Dikkio (rtd) as coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), stakeholders were happy for the fact that, as a Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) 21st Regular Combatant Course graduate, who voluntarily retired as Colonel in July 2004, Dikkio will seamlessly design programmes that sustainably empower Niger Delta ex-agitators as well as put into operation Strategic Implementation Action Plan to massively develop the Niger Delta.
Within that period of his appointment, I recall posting a piece entitled ‘‘A note for Millard Dikkio’’ published in The Guardian on September 23, 2020, tasking him to complete a process of socio-economic rejuvenation of the Niger Delta youths that successive administrations in the country have spent far too long a time to do.
Two years after that post, I cannot say categorically whether the PAP coordinator kept to the advice. But the present instinct in the Niger Delta explains two things: First, apart from the fact that the excitement, which hitherto rent the space has faded, jeer has since overtaken the cheers of performance while fears have displaced reason, resulting in irrational hatred and division.
A recent and resounding complaint came from the South-South wing of ex-agitators, calling on Buhari to sack Dikkio as the interim coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. The statement which was signed by one General Paul Agge, according to media reports, alleged that Dikkio has gone astray from the cardinal objective in which the amnesty programme was founded.
For me, what is happening is merely an important phase of transition aimed at bringing the obnoxious negative peace in the programme to the surface where it can be seen and treated. Injustice in the amnesty programme must be exposed to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
The questions begging for an answer(s) include; how long was the Presidential Amnesty Programme initially structured to last? How many former militants were originally enlisted for the programme? How many have been trained? How many are still undergoing training? What stage is the programme? If Dikkio is able to provide these answers or correct the above challenges it will be a most powerful accomplishment for earning new respect and emulation.
Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi is the programme coordinator (Media and Public Policy), and Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA).