In just 21 months on the saddle as Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the reality of Prof. Charles Dokubo’s good leadership has exploded the magic wand in his messianic abilities and exposed him as a conscientious achiever with his consolidation of education, training and empowerment of Niger-Delta youths.
Dokubo’s aim is to achieve the objectives of the master plan in the Amnesty Programme vision statement which seek to contribute to security stabilisation in the Niger- Delta through disarmament, demobilisati’on and rehabilitation. And his sustainable plans to re-integrate the people of the Niger- Delta, especially the ex-agitators, as a pre-condition for medium and long term development has started yielding the desired results. Not only is there sustainable peace for development in the region, there is also steady and uninterrupted consolidation of the education, training and empowerment of the Niger-Delta people.
At the 7th Convocation and 10th Anniversary ceremony of the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) in Ekiti State on Monday, October 21, 2019, there was a reverberation of the virtuousness in educational excellence for which those privileged to be sponsored by the Presidential Amnesty Programme have become noted. Four of the 58 students on sponsorship of the progamme, Pobeni Emmanuel Dakore, Tele Blessing, Roland Ayebakuro Ebriyo and Agu Chidera Confidence bagged First-Class degrees with three of the awardees scoring minimum of CGPA 4.54 in the College of Engineering and the fourth, Agu in the Medical Laboratory Sciences. Nineteen other beneficiaries of the programme in the school also graduated, at the ceremony, with Second Class (Upper) degree.
Dokubo described the exploit of the students as unprecedented. According to him, it is a huge success for the Programme and the Niger Delta. He attributed the glowing achievement to the commitment of President Buhari to deepen peace as a vehicle for socio-economic development of the oil-rich region, adding, “I am elated that four of our delegates made us proud with First Class degrees.”
On Friday, November 29, 2019, a female beneficiary of the Presidential Amnesty Programme on scholarship at Igbinedion University Okada (IUO), Edo State, Mrs. Ovbude Queen Ohiolei, emerged the overall best graduating student of the institution.
26-year-old Ovbude who was pregnant and delivered her first baby in her final year, clinched a first class degree in Mass Communication with a CGPA of 4.86 and the coveted prize for overall best graduating student. She was among five beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme on scholarship at IUO who graduated recently and were awarded first class degrees in various disciplines during the 17th convocation ceremony of the university.
Others who bagged first class degrees include Munemune Ebiti’mi Arthur (Civil Engineering), Eregbene Tamar Emmanuel (Electrical- Electronics Engineering), Dabo Festus Itunuoluwa (Law) and Abdul Farida Francisca (Computer Science). Apart from the quartet, 50 beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme were also awarded second class upper division, just as 11 bagged Masters Degrees at the ceremony in which a total of 145 beneficiaries of the programme graduated.
It was the second consecutive year beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme were bearing the torch at IUO. At the 16th convocation ceremony of the university in 2018, a beneficiary of the programme, Mr. Afekuro Joseph Keriti’emone, bagged first class degree in Political Science and Public Administration with a CGPA of 4.87, emerging the overall best graduating student. He was offered automatic employment as a lecturer in the institution.
“The Amnesty Programme is a laudable programme. There are a lot of people who are intellectually better than me but because they don’t have the opportunity, many are languishing in the creeks. With the aid of this programme, I am here today; I am a lecturer in this highly esteemed university. I am appealing to the Federal Government to continue with the Amnesty Programme because it will bring out more intellectuals from the Niger Delta region”, an elated Keritiemone remarked.
President of the Presidential Amnesty Programme students’ union, IUO chapter, Umokoro Nesta Dimbainimboya, was overwhelmed with joy by the spectacular feats as he commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Coordinator, PAP, Prof. Charles Dokubo, for the giant strides recorded especially in the educational sector.
“I just want to say a big thank you to the Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo and Mr. President for their determination in ensuring that the programme attains a huge success.
The Amnesty Programme is an initiative of the late President Yar’Adua as a result of the insecurity in the Niger Delta. 10 years on, the programme that has changed many lives. As you can see, we have many first-class graduates from IUO as well as second class upper degree recipients. IUO has produced many graduates that had stimulated the economy in the Niger Delta region and have been of great benefit to the Niger Delta people. By God’s grace, I know this programme will go far to impact on the whole world, not just the Niger Delta region or Nigeria as nation”.
Concerned about the need to give the nation’s critical sectors a shove upwards, Dokubo is focused on achieving quality education for the youths in the Niger Delta. To realise this dream, 1,230 beneficiaries of the programme were offered scholarship and were deployed across 11 partnering institutions in 2019, with 35 of the number strategically distributed to different establishments offshore. Already, a total of 68 students are enjoying sponsorship of the programme in educational institutions in foreign countries.
Under Dokubo’s coordination, the Presidential Amnesty Programme has been acclaimed for changing the physical and economic lives of Niger Delta people through emphasis on proper education, vocational training and empowerment of beneficiaries. In pursuit of these lofty objectives, he had to shift focus to the completion and activation of vocational centres, which foundation were already laid and the construction of new ones, where there were none.
To this end, he has completed, activated and commissioned the Vocational Training Centre for oil and gas skills in Agadagba-Obon, Ondo State. Also, he completed, activated and commissioned the Vocational Training Centre for basic skills in New Boro Town, Kaiama , Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. He is presently intensifying effort on the Vocational Training Centre for power and energy in Bomadi town, Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State, where work is presently at 90 percent of completion. Furthermore, in February, 2019, he performed the foundation laying stone of the Vocational Training Centre for agricultural skills in Gelegele, Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo State, where work is presently ongoing. It is the same story for the Vocational Training Centre in Obuama, Harry’s Town in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Amnesty programme under the leadership of Prof. Dokubo intends to build vocational centres in all the states in the Niger Delta to enhance human capital and infrastructural development so as to fulfil President Buhari’s vision of security, peace and development for the region. The cognitive process of acquiring nice bits of crafts and display of art in exercise of ability is in top gear. For instance, about 200 beneficiaries are presently training in transformer repairs and maintenance at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology in Port Harcourt.
An equal number also graduated this year from training in various skills at Bradama International Skill Works Limited, Agadagba-Obom in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State. They were trained in five main areas of skills that included Welding and Fabrication, Mechanical FiWngs, Scaffold and Rigging, Industrial Painting and Abrasive Blasting. Following their successful graduation, another batch of 200 beneficiaries were deployed in Bradama International Skill Works Limited for training with effect from Friday, November 29, 2019.
From Ondo, Delta, Edo, and Rivers states, to all areas linked with the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the story fills the air of the earnings of the people from the programme that is distributed to its stakeholders. For 51-year-old Mrs Miebaka Oribi of Okochiri Kingdom in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, President Muhammadu Buhari is God-sent, a transformer of lives and the empowerment of the Niger- Delta people. As the breadwinner of her family, the strong, robust and light complexioned woman had a deception by creating illusory ideas. When that failed the Amnesty Programme came to her aid. Miebaka is today, one of the beneficiaries recently empowered in Okochiri. She was one of those given starter packs for profitable business set up in various trade in September this year. Miebaka and others had been trained as part of efforts to reintegrate them into society.
To Miebaka, the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, is not just visionary but also passionate about the Niger Delta with unquestionable commitment to the development of the region and its people. She had reasons to sing, dance and be thankful to the President and his aide because, according to her, the people of Niger Delta have never had it so good in the past. As a beneficiary of the Programme, enough to fully convey her deep and encompassing joy. In a region where beneficiaries were notorious in the past for selling tools freely given to them by the Federal Government to enhance their lives and raise the standard of their families, Miebaka, the jubilant community leader, promised to make the most judicious use of the items given to her and also ensure that other beneficiaries make similar profitable economic uses of their empowerment.
While expressing her appreciation to the Federal Government for empowering her and the other beneficiaries of the Programme in the state, she said: “I sincerely appreciate this gesture and want to assure the Federal Government and the President’al Amnesty Programme that the starter packs given to me will be used well for the benefit of my family and community.” No fewer than 100 people trained by the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) were given starter packs. Items distributed to the beneficiaries included, deep freezers, electric sewing machines and generators, among others.
Dokubo said they were empowered with the starter packs to enable them engage in productive ventures that would make them more responsible and self-reliant. He added that the Federal Government gesture was in fulfilment of the Programme that was specifically established to train and empower Niger Delta youths who are enlisted for developing the region’s human capital, a requisite for maintaining peace and security in the restive region.
“This occasion is very significant for those of us in the Niger Delta. The Amnesty Programme was set up to empower and to maintain security in the region. Today’s event is to empower and enhance trained beneficiaries of the Programme so that they can go back home and set up themselves and do jobs that will benefit them. Niger Delta people, like I have always said, are hardworking people and once they are given the tools, they will do whatever other people in Nigeria will do and even do it better.
So, today’s occasion is for me to give trained beneficiaries starter packs to start their lives, to open their shops and start their businesses immediately. Now that we have set them up, they will earn money, help their families and stabilize from war-torn to stabilized living”. He assured that empowerment under his leadership will be continuous in order to actualize the objectives for which the Presidential Amnesty Programme was established, and urged youths in the Niger Delta to flee from criminal activities that could hinder development in the region.
The Amayanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, His Royal Majesty Michael Ateke Tom, who graced the occasion and from whose camp the beneficiaries were drawn, commended Dokubo’s leadership of Amnesty Programme and assured him of total and unalloyed support. “The beneficiaries should go and arrange themselves well to make use of what they were given very well, so that they will not come back and make complaint again,” King Ateke counseled.
Another set of 100 rural women, drawn from coastal communities across the Niger Delta were also proud owners of starter packs distributed to them by the Presidential Amnesty Programme to enable them take a firm and profitable grip of their fishing business. The beneficiaries, who were given the items at the first phase flag-off ceremony in Warri, Delta State, in October, 2019, were the first batch of a total of 400 women that will be empowered in the fishing sector of the region’s economy.
The empowerment packs included a modern fibre boat fitted with a Yamaha 8 horse-powered outboard engine as well as fishing nets, fishing hooks, life jacket, life rings and fire buckets. The fishing boats built and supplied by Innotek Royal Services Limited were not wooden boats as reported in the social media but quality product of modern fibre technology.
As a distinct feature of this particular empowerment programme, the implementation of the contract represented another milestone achieved by the Presidential Amnesty Programme as some of its beneficiaries who had been trained in polymer science and technology, offered employment at Innotek Royal Services Limited and partner companies, were part of the workforce that constructed the 100 modern fibre fishing boats at the company factory located along DSC Expressway, Otokutu in Warri, Delta State.
At the presentation ceremony, Dokubo, who was represented at the occasion by his Special Assistant on Media, Murphy Ganagana, said training and empowerment of beneficiaries will always be prioritised to fast-track achievement of the Programme objectives. “Before now, most of the women were plying their trade using very crude local equipment such as wooden paddle canoes, etc. Today, you can see what we have given them to use, modern equipment. Of course, if you have better equipment, that will enhance your productivity,” he added.
An enthusiastic beneficiary, Madam Ebipadei Ogelegbam-Owei said: “whoever blesses a woman, blesses the nation. These boats will take us under five or 10 minutes to reach our fishing locations. With the boats and equipment, we can take our fishes to the market too for sale”, while another beneficiary, Mrs. Alafia Johnson, explained that “before now, I don’t have a boat, I don’t have engine; I don’t have fishing net. But with these new equipment and empowerment, I can make it now.”
One of the beneficiaries that Amnesty Programme trained who was part of the workforce that constructed the 100 fibre boats is Kidabawei Temiepiri Friday. The 32- year-old native of Ovonome in Ovia South West LGA of Edo State and father of four, an employee of Glassfa Continental Limited, is a Sri Lanka-trained boat builder. He thanked FG for the opportunity to live a new life. “The presidency has really tried for Niger Delta. Before now, it was all about war. Presently, we can do what others are doing; we can see things ourselves and contribute to the economy of the country. By the special grace of God since 2009, my family, local government and state have become proud of me. My parents now depend on me. Before, it was me who was depending on them. It is because I now have this platform”, Kidabawei said Apart from polymer science and technology through which trained delegates are contributing to the maritime sector, others trained in industrial welding are contributing to the oil and gas sector.
A trainer and chief engineer at SkyTraine International, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Koko Mathew Gbenekanu, said any graduate of the institution with the knowledge of argon welding can work in the oil and gas industry besides being self-employed.
“We are in partnership with the Federal Government to train Amnesty Programme beneficiaries. We have a lot of them who are undergoing training presently. The kind of training they are doing here is industrial welding and they are doing a particular process called argon welding. It is called argon welding because they use the argon gas for shielding to protect the molten metal from atmospheric attack of oxygen and nitrogen.
As you can see, from the activities that they are doing here, most of them have graduated from plate to pipe because we started them with paperwork to train their speed and their wrist; then after that you move to your plate. When you graduate from your plate you move to pipe. In pipe we have two major positions you must qualify, the 5G position and the 6G position. Any person who qualifies for this is automatically qualified for plate works and pipes. You can work in an oil industry and so that is what we are giving to them”, he explained.
A trainee, Ogbene Chimere, commended President Buhari and Prof. Dokubo. He said: “I have done plates. I have done bending of pipes. I have done 2G pipe positioning. I am in the finishing part of 5G positioning. I have graduated to 6G. I just want to say I am happy with the skill I am acquiring. Now that I have acquired this skill, I can go into oil and gas sector for pipe welding and other jobs. I know I can do a very good job. I thank Mr. President and Prof. Charles Dokubo for giving me hope.”
After weighing the gains of the Amnesty Programme, a leader and one of the earliest agitators in Niger Delta, High Chief Opunama, poured out his heart on Dokubo: “He has given us the lifeline and shown us the data; this man has done what others could not do. He has empowered our mothers, wives of fighters that we lost; their children and everybody. We want Buhari to make sure the programme continued; we support Dokubo one hundred per cent. You
can see that since Dokubo assumed office, there has been peace. But we want Federal Government to empower Dokubo to empower more youth”. To assist him in redirecting the Amnesty Programme on the right tract, Prof. Charles Dokubo inaugurated a Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E) Committee on Wednesday, December 4, 2019.
The 29-member committee comprising critical stakeholders and professionals in the Niger Delta is headed by a foremost environmental rights activist, Elder Timi Kaizer Ogoriba. Members of the committee include, Selekaye Victor Ben, Marshall Kunoun, Sgt. Weri Noel Digifa, Binaebi Ambah, Kalsuo Doupere, Welman Warri, Wisdom Oniekpar Ikuli, Oyeinfie Jonjon, Rosabella Jackson, Richard Akinaka, and Bright Peregba. Others are, Kennedy West, Chief Ani Esin,Barr. Golden Tamuno, Lolo Green Hailsham, Elfreda Olungwe, Prof. Monima Briggs, Ibiba Don Pedro, Cooler Hart, Chief Dan Ekpebide, Chief Kennedy Orubebe, Hendrix Opukeme, Chief Ari Ari, David Reje, Edgar Biu, Donyegha Ben, Arch. Piniki Azaiye, Dr Chris Ekiyor and Mrs. Tare Ugula. Dokubo, while inaugurating the committee at the conference hall of Treasure Suites in Abuja, said it would give impetus and a new direction in his drive to refocus the Amnesty Programme to its original mandate, as he highlighted the significance of the M & E committee.
“We need it to be part of the office and of all the programmes we are running, without M & E, we cannot do it properly; we cannot do it effectively. And this will be my own visible direction. I think with the M and E in the office, we can always guide and redial history and make sure that those who do not understand will be better informed. And for those of us from the Niger Delta, if we don’t do things to make use of this programme, posterity will question us as people. I am determined to ensure that the impact of the programme will directly affect the lives of our people in the local communities. And I hope that with the input of this committee to the programme, we will get a better roadmap to navigate this programme to its goals and objectives. I strongly believe that with the personally of Chief T. K. Ogoriba and those who are there with him, we will steer this new ship on sail in the Amnesty Programme to an enviable berth”.
For Ogoriba, the inauguration of the monitoring and evaluation committee for the Amnesty Programme is the beginning of another era in the drive to achieving better results in the Presidential Amnesty Programme; an indication that there is a new Sheriff glowing with inspiration and hope for the Niger Delta people. “We will use this medium to crave an opportunity to profusely thank the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, for institutionalizing this integral part of the programme that was jettisoned earlier and now being given teeth to bite and making it function. We give you all the assurances that we will not disappoint in the discharge of our responsibilities and will not be overwhelmed by the appurtenances and niceties of the office, if any. The membership of the committee, whole-heartedly accept the responsibility that has been bestowed on us on this very auspicious occasion”.