Bishops and Clergy Council of Niger Delta, Nigeria (BCCNDN) says the hitherto restive oil-rich region has recorded tremendous improvement in the lives of the people through the Presidential Amnesty Programme under the leadership of Prof. Charles Dokubo.
The forum of gospel ministers whose mission fields are in various parts of the Niger Delta region, noted that skills acquisition and other projects of the Programme initiated by Dokubo have yielded visited results and drastically reduced militancy.
This is even as the Bishops conferred on the Amnesty boss, award of Apostle of Peace as a reward for his determination to turn around the Niger Delta narrative and achievements recorded within a period of nine months in office.
Speaking on Monday in Abuja when a 22-member delegation of the Council visited the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, the ArchBishop of the Calvary Temple, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Boma Lawson, pledged support of the religious leaders.
“The main reason for this visit is to identify with you and to encourage you for the good work you’ve been doing since your appointment. Since your inauguration as Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, we have noticed tremendous improvement in the lives of our people. Incidents of pipeline vandalization, kidnapping of oil workers and attacks on the national economy is almost becoming a thing of the past. The other reason for the visit is to register our support for the present management of the Amnesty Programme”.
Arch-Bishop Lawson expressed the desire of Bishops and Clergy Council of Niger Delta to partner the Amnesty Office in the area of counselling ex-agitators enrolled in the Amnesty Programme to restore morals that will impact positively in the lives of beneficiaries of the Programme.
Towards this end, he urged Dokubo to include members of the Council whenever special purpose committees are set up across all states in the Niger Delta region to create an avenue for religious leaders to interface with beneficiaries.
In his remarks, Prof. Dokubo lamented the lack of commitment by some youths in the Niger Delta to optimize opportunities inherent in the Amnesty Programme, but reiterated his unwavering determination to ensure fresh initiatives to uplift the lives of the people. “It is a painful thing that our people do not want to use this office to empower themselves. This office was not created for me, neither was it created for any of the former SAs. It is to empower the Niger Delta people; to make sure that they are nursed back to life so that they will be in charge of their fortune and future. For me, that is what I intend doing”.
He added: “We have opened a training centre in Agadagba, Ondo State. If you look at our vocational centres, if you go to that oil and gas vocational centre, I think it is the best I have seen in Nigeria. Good instrumentation; good set up and everything. If you go there, you will not believe that there is something like that in that village. It is God that made me to do it. Wherever you go, in your churches and gatherings, instill this idea into our people. Let them know they cannot just live for today. They must live ahead; think for their children and their family.
Now you have Amnesty Programme. We have trained people; pilots, doctors, lawyers etc. we have all of them here in the Programme. So, you have gotten these things. But the fact is that if you do not sell yourself to this oil sector community and to earn a living out of it, then you are just wasting your time. As you go back to your churches, I think you still have to speak from the pulpits more words about Niger Delta, our own area: what if we do not use this thing effectively, what will happen to us? I am scared. It is not about getting money. It is about my people”.
It was through conflict that the Amnesty Programme was created. Now, as part of conflict resolution, they have set up organizations and agencies to deal with our people because of our peculiar situation. If we do not use it well, the fault will not be in our stars but in ourselves. That is the way it will be”.