DR. Timiebi Koripamo-Agary from Odi in Kolukuma/Opokuma LGA in Bayelsa State was born in Port Harcourt and attended the famous Archdeacon Crowther Memorial Girls School, Elelenwa, Port Harcourt where she finished in 1965.
She went on to gather more educational qualifications including: a B.Sc. from the University of Ibadan (Animal Science) in 1970; an M.Sc. from the University of London (Human Nut
rition), 1972; another M.Sc. from the UniversitÃ© Libre de Brussels (Statistical and Epidemiological Methods with distinction), 1989; and a Dr.PH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Human Nutrition) in 1978.
Dr. Koripamo-Agary also holds a Certificate in Negotiation Dynamics, from INSEAD, FRANCE; a Certificate in Advanced Alternative Dispute Resolution from La Trobe University, Faculty of Law and Management; and a Certificate in Public Sector Reform from Public Administration International, London.Â She has also attended the course for Leaders in Development: Managing Political and Economic Change, Harvard Kennedy School, Executive Education, Boston, MA , USA .
Dr. Koripamo-Agary was born into a politically active household; her mother, Mrs. C. V. Koripamo, was the midwife that birthed Isaac Boro, and her father, Rt. Hon RJE Koripamo, JP of Blessed memory, was one of the ‘Sit Tight Ministers’ of the Eastern region and one of the proponents of the COR (Calabar, Ogoja, Rivers) State Movement of the 1950s. While waiting for her admission to the University in 1966 she provided support for Isaac Boro, taking items to him in Port Harcourt prison where he was being held for insurrection against the Nigerian Government.
Dr. Koripamo-Agary has widely consulted on the Niger Delta for organisations including USAID/OTI and SHELL Petroleum Development Company.Â She was a member of the Steering Committee on the Action Aid Niger Delta Dialogue, 2007-2008, a resource person to the Presidential Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, 2008, and most recently, a member of the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Niger Delta Militants.
A strong believer in justice and equity, Dr. Koripamo-Agary was never afraid to defend her rights and the rights of others, making her one of the most popular Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Labour in recent years. In this interview with Hector Igbikiowubo, Editor of Sweet Crude, she addresses a wide range of issues concerning the work of the amnesty committee.
To what extent has the Amnesty Committee achieved its mandate?
We have to a large extent achieved our mandate bearing in mind that we still have ten days to go to before the end. The number of militants that have accepted the amnesty is far above what we had expected and many more are going to come out. Barring a few logistics problems I am sure that it will be a huge success.
Government Ekpemupolo (Alias Tompolo) was quoted as having asked for an extension of the amnesty deadline. Is the committee making any recommendations to the Federal Government in this regard?
No. The amnesty still has ten days to go. One would rather advise him to seize the opportunity of the time available to accept it.
There are fears in certain quarters that the amnesty for militants may not endure if no concerted effort is made to find gainful employment for those who accept the package. What is the committee doing in this regard?
The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is dealing with the issue of jobs for the militants and this is going on very well. You must have been aware that to this end the Ministry organised a job fair in Abuja in August. I am informed that there are commitments from the companies that participated in the fair to engage them. Those who need to be trained will be availed the opportunity for training, to skill them up for available jobs. But it all depends on what the militants want for themselves.
Has the amnesty committee tried to involve the multinational oil companies operating in the area with regard to a post amnesty programme vis a vis job creation for the people in the area?
Yes, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is coordinating this process.
There are also concerns that the camps for supposed repentant militants remain virtually empty, an indication that those who accept the programme are not being profiled for future references. Please what is your reaction?
All militants who have accepted the amnesty are profiled before they are taken into the camps. But there is no compulsion that they must stay in the camp. They are free to leave and are easy to reach.
Indications are that the Governors, save for that of Bayelsa have kept a distance from the amnesty programme. Don’t you think this may not augur well for the overall success of the programme?
All the Governors are indeed solidly supporting the amnesty programme in their jurisdictions. Governor Sylva of course became visible because of his efforts at reaching out to the militant leaders who came to Abuja to meet with Mr. President and publicly declaring their acceptance of the amnesty, and of course when these militant leaders turned in their arms and ammunition in Yenagoa on the 22nd of August.
How much was budgeted for the implementation of this programme and how much has been expended so far?
For me what was budgeted for the programme is immaterial. You may know that funds are released based on availability and need. At the end of the programme I am sure government will disclose how much was spent.
There are fears that what happened in Gbaramatu may recur in communities of the Niger Delta under the pretext that the military are searching for or trying to flush out militants at the expiration of the amnesty deadline. Please can you address this concern?
Government must have learnt a few lessons from Gbaramatu and indeed all the other such incidents in the past including my town Odi.
I hope those tragedies would be avoided.Â But to stop any of such incidents from happening, may I appeal again to the militants to help prevent the violence and destruction by accepting the amnesty and turning in their arms and ammunition so that the peace we so desperately need for the development of our region can hold for the physical development to take place.
Are you involved in the post-amnesty plans for the militants?
As I mentioned before, the Ministry for the Niger Delta is in charge of the plans for rehabilitating, training, etc of the militants who have come forward.Â Of course as a Niger Delta woman I am interested in what happens to the militants and other young people in the region. Being retired now gives me the time and flexibility to institutionalize some