By Emem Idio, Yenagoa
YENAGOA- A group known as Watchdog for Progressive Ijaw ,WPI, have fingered what it described as’selfish politicians’ and other enemies of the Niger Delta as those behind sponsored smear campaigns against the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio ,retd.
The Coordinator, WPI, Mr. Lambart Olambo, in a statement on Tuesday said their investigations revealed that the motive behind the sinister campaign, bankrolled against the general interests of the Niger Delta, was to deny Dikio his well-deserved re-appointment or confirmation as the substantive coordinator of PAP.
The statement said some politicians, who were desperately trying to covet the amnesty office and use resources meant for ex-agitators to fund their personal political ambitions were bankrolling their attack dogs to make spurious, baseless and unfounded claims against Dikio.
He described as laughable attempts to blame illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism in the region on Dikio saying such claim was unintelligent and childish.
Olambo said: “We are aware of the fruitless sessions on the theme of their evil campaign and how to twist the narratives to get Dikio out of office and return a programme that had made substantial progress under Dikio to the dark days of backwardness.
“Having found Dikio spotless, accountable and transparent in all his dealings especially in the management of PAP funds, they resorted to flying a lame kite that he was the reason behind the increase in oil theft in the region for not paying some ghost names their amnesty stipends.
“It is obvious they have nothing to use against Dikio because this claim to us is lame. We have followed Dikio since he assumed office and his management of the amnesty programme and we unequivocally state that he is the best that has managed the scheme.
“Dikio diligently reformed PAP, weeded off all ghost names swallowing the programme resources, from the payroll. He automated the payments of monthly stipends to ex-agitators in such a way that on the 25th of every month, their bank accounts are credited with their N65,000 monthly stipends. This alone eliminated tension caused in the Niger Delta by ex-agitators’ past habit of blocking the East-West Road to protest their arrears of unpaid stipends.
“Dikio without fear of favour reformed the contractual process of PAP, removing all portfolio contractors and ensuring that only verifiable firms and known facilities that meet PAP’s standard will train, employ and mentor the programme’s beneficiaries.
“Besides, we observed as Dikio totally changed the orientation of ex-agitators, who now see themselves as change agents and partners with the Federal Government in sustaining the peace in the Niger Delta.
“Basking in the new model of Train, Employ and Mentor (TEM) introduced by Dikio, the ex-agitators are now preparing themselves for a life after PAP as entrepreneurs, skilled and employable workers.
“For the first time in the history of PAP, Dikio goes down to the creeks of the Niger Delta regularly to hold interactions with different groups of ex-agitators and all other stakeholders of the programme. We believe that PAP has been refocused by Dikio to achieve its mandate and the vision of Dikio for Niger Delta remained the best for peace and development of the region
Olambo challenged those spreading the rumours to publish names of ex-agitators who they claimed were not paid their stipends and were forced by the development to engage in illegal oil bunkering and other forms of oil theft for survival.
Olambo insisted that those behind the smear campaign were simply pushing an agenda to kick Dikio out of the way to enable them have unfettered access to the coffers of PAP to fund their 2023 ambitions at the detriment of the ex-agitators and the ongoing peace-building in the Niger Delta.
He said it was unimaginable that some persons could be working against Dikio, who had the support of all the stakeholders in the region including governors and well-meaning politicians just to promote their selfish interests.
He said prominent stakeholders, groups, elders, ex-agitators including all former leaders of agitation in the region had verified Dikio’s efforts and applauded his innovations, reforms and selfless commitment to reposition the amnesty office towards achieving its full mandate.