- Calls for disarmament and demobilisation of ex-agitators
Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has lamented the proliferation of light weapons in the Niger Delta region while calling on the Federal Government to revisit the disarmament and demobilisation phase of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) in order to curb crime and criminality within the region.
Diri made the call when the interim administrator of the PAP, Col Milland Dikio paid him a courtesy call at the government house, Yenagoa.
He requested that the Amnesty Office should provide his government with the list of ex-agitators from Bayelsa who have been trained and those yet to be trained in the programme.
While noting that the amnesty programme would make more progress when it works in concert with state governments in the region, Diri commended Dikio for soliciting their cooperation and urged him to set up a functional regional office in Bayelsa.
The governor further decried the rise of incessant protests by ex-agitators in the Niger Delta against the programme while condemning the looting of the Kaiama training centre by aggrieved persons.
“We are sure going by your pedigree and what we have heard about you, you will not fail us. God has brought you back divinely to run this Programme. With your wealth of experience, I believe that you will sustain the gains made, especially in the area of peace,” Diri told the amnesty programme administrator.
“I am aware that this programme is at its very important stage which is reintegration but it is even questionable if we have completed the Disarmament and Demobilisation stage. This is because the prevalence of light weapons in the region is still very alarming. We need to mop up the small and light weapons in the region.
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“I believe you have studied your briefs and this tour you have embarked on is good because it will afford you to see things for yourself. Appoint liaison officers to work with the state governments so you can do things differently.
“We don’t have the data of how many Bayelsa ex-agitators were in the PAP. Please we need that data. Supply us the names of the beneficiaries. Total number of our ex-agitators trained so far and the number of those that have benefitted from your scholarship. Set up a functional zonal office and if I want to be sentimental in Yenagoa,” he added.
The Governor warned that “This is not the time to play politics or politicise the PAP. If we do so, it will affect all of us. Let nobody deceive you that because we are all PDP governors in the region, we will not work with you. We will work with you. For me I am always ready to support you and work to ensure you succeed.
On his part, Dikio said he was on a mission to return the programme to the region, adding that his team had the capacity to change the narratives.
He said: “We are here in Bayelsa because of the ‘‘back-to-the-region’’ tour. We have met with some critical stakeholders and also held a summit to discuss the future of the PAP.
“I am here basically to sell a new vision, a vision that we can change the paradigm. A toxic environment is antithetical to development. Even if we are right we shouldn’t shoot ourselves in the foot. We need to have more entrepreneurial approach to our issues. I am very confident that where there is hope there is a bright future”.