By Davies Iheamnachor
The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd) has expressed regrets over perceived emerging new wave of militancy in the Niger Delta, adding that the ill is fuelled by abuse of substances by youths in the region.
Dikio, however, called for urgent steps by stakeholders to curb the emerging threat in the region.
The amnesty boss spoke when he paid a visit on the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Buba Marwa (rtd), in Abuja, according to a statement signed Monday by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Nneotaobase Egbe.
He said that the partnership between NDLEA and PAP would drastically reduce cases of drug abuse and reposition the minds of youths of the region for more productive ventures.
Dikio said: “We have a unique challenge in the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) that of managing ex-militants; we call them ex-agitators. We want to take active measures to not only manage the present ex-agitators, but to pre-empt and stop the pipeline that leads to deviant behaviour and militancy.
“It goes without saying that some of these people get their motivation by using or abusing substances, so we want to key into what you are doing on the arrest side and learn what we can do on the prevention side”.
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Meanwhile, the NDLEA boss, Marwa, in his remark, promised that the NDLEA would partner PAP to curb the intake of hard drugs and other substances by youths in the Niger Delta.
Marwa decried the wave of drug-induced crime in the country, especially among youths noting that the collaboration between PAP and his agency would focus on sensitisation and counseling programmes as a major preventive measure to curb the menace.
He said 80% of drug users in the country need counseling, saying that records corroborated by a United Nation’s study showed that in Nigeria, one in seven persons between ages 23 to 64 abused drugs.
Marwa said: “We have also found that the students, bandits, kidnappers, rapists, down the line youths, militants, use drugs and we will be very happy to collaborate with the Amnesty Programme.
“We don’t need to wait for people to become drug addicts first; the majority have not used drugs, others have tasted but are not addicted to it. The ex-agitators are also normal human beings that will like to marry and raise families.
“The advice we give that will deal with the drug problem is to find some source of income for them through skills acquisition and if it is affordable, some kind of wage structure.”