By Udeh Daniella
SUSPENSE still pervades the Niger Delta region amid a clash of interests as the battle to succeed suspended coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, intensifies.
The office of the coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme initiated by the late president Umaru Yar’Adua in 2009, is perceived to be a juicy but hot seat by close observers and had recorded a high turnover in about 11 years of its creation.
General Godwin Abe, Chief Timi Alaibe, Kingsley Kuku and General Paul Boroh, had at different times superintended over the programme prior to the appointment of Prof. Charles Dokubo.
But only Kuku was able to occupy the office for over three years, a feat attributed to the fact that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who was the sitting president of the country at the time, hails from the South-South region and understood the local politics and sundry interests of his people.
With Jonathan’s exit and President Muhammadu Buhari’s assumption of power in 2015, those who had their eyes on the Amnesty Programme girded their loins to actualise their ambition. They wrestled General Paul Boroh to the ground within a period of two years, and sustained the battle with high vigour till his successor, Charles Dokubo, was suspended from office.
The lobby to step into his shoes commenced in earnest, but the steam soon evaporated when there was no clear signal on the terms of reference and duration of the caretaker committee constituted by the National Security Adviser, General Mohammed Monguno, to manage the Amnesty Programme in the interim and review its operations.
However, on Tuesday, July 21, the committee reportedly submitted its report to President Buhari, in which it made wide-ranging recommendations. Expectedly, the submission of the report has thrown the gladiators back to the trenches, as well as some new entrants, in a titanic battle to succeed Dokubo.
Chief Mike Loyibo and Chief Dennis Otuaro, a younger brother to the incumbent Deputy Governor of Delta State, Kingsley Otuaro, are among those in the race to succeed Dokubo, while no fewer than eight contenders have recently enlarged the list.
They include a dental surgeon, Dr. Chris Ekiyor, a former commander of the Army Headquarters Garrison, Major General B.T Ndiomu (retired); another ex-military officer, Col. Dedis Abel; and the Personal Assistant to the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege.
Three leaders of ex-Niger Delta agitators, Chief Reuben Wilson, Chief Ebikabowei Victor Ben, and Chief Selky Tile Torughedi, alias Young Shall Grow, are also in the race.
All the contenders for the plum job, it was learnt, had submitted their resume to the office of the National Security Adviser and the presidency, amidst suspense in the Niger Delta region on who becomes the next coordinator of the Amnesty Programme.
Various interest groups are said to be intensifying consultations as they x-ray the profiles, competence and the commitment of the contenders to the interest of the Niger Delta.
Not much is known about the former military officers apart from the fact that Col. Abel was a member of the Nigeria Defence Academy, NDA, Course 23; a mate to the NSA, General Monguno, and served as the Chief of Staff to Dokubo’s predecessor, General Boroh; while General Ndiomu, who, like Abel, also hails from Bayelsa State, was a member of NDA Regular Combatant Course 29 and held various positions, including Garrison Commander, Nigerian Army Headquarters. Born on May 2, 1963, Ndiomu was also Chief of Training and Operations at the Defence Headquarters.
Feelers from the presidency indicated that it will also not be an easy walk into the office of the coordinator, Amnesty Programme for the candidates.
*Udeh, a social analyst, wrote from Abuja