Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Porgramme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, has identified constant dialogue with critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta as a critical factor in ensuring peace in the region.
Dokubo made this known while speaking at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
“Let me tell you what I did in the first two months, the critical stakeholders in the region especially those militants and their group leaders to hold a meeting with them in Lagos.
“To tell them the purpose of my appointment and to see how we can drive this programme and to maintain the security that we already have and all of them bought into my own plan.
“After that I met with the field commanders, phase one, two, three commanders in Abuja here and they also bought into my own plan.
“My reason for bringing them in is that if they agree to work with you, that peace that has been there will continue to be there, you can neither work against them nor can you work irrespective of them.
“You have to work with consent with them; let them see the benefits of working together in a stable environment so that they could fit in and also help their people.
“If you claim to represent a particular part of the country and if you cannot maintain peace in that area there then there is a problem.
“If you should represent them and you should make sure they have all it takes to stay in that place and have peace.
“For them, the most important thing is to talk to them, to relate with them, understand and feel their pulse so that you can know exactly what they want and this is exactly what they want and this is what I did.
“I believe the peace that has been there will continue to be there.’’
The professor, however, said there was a need to be alert in order to respond rapidly to maintain the peace and security being enjoyed in the region because something small could ignite and threaten the peace in the region.
The amnesty boss stressed that maintaining peace and securing the environment was for the benefit of all Nigerians especially those in the region.
He therefore advised the militants and agitators to work with government so that lasting peace could be achieved in the region.
“My advice has always been that if the environment is secure, it is also secure for all of us.
“Also If you go on bursting pipes and all that, that that environment which you say you are protecting is going to create a problem for people who are staying there even for children yet unborn.
“I put it before them; it is not just about going to burst pipes because the pipes are not in Kaduna, the pipes are in your place and that is the place where your fishing and farming will be disturbed.
“So that is my own plan let them see the benefit of working together with government and let them see that with government what we were not able to achieve before , we can now get it.
“Because they are also part of the system, they discuss with me, they exchange idea with me so that with that we can move forward.”
Dokubo, however, said the major challenge of the programme was working with people who are used to working in a faulted environment, a dynamic environment.
According to him, these people have been so used to a particular way things have been moving so when you bring a new thing they challenge that concept.
“It worries their sense of entitlement in that programme; so you will continue to work, you do not have to rest, you either make sure you change them to adopt and adapt or they live you to work on your programme.
He assured Nigerians that the amnesty programme would definitely achieve its purpose and attain the heights set for it under his administration.
By Okeoghene Oghenekaro and Jacinta Nwachukwu