… Give 14 days ultimatum to publish list, call for probe of former officials
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
Following controversies trailing one thousand seven hundred and fourteen (1, 714) local and foreign scholarships awarded by the immediate past Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dikio (rtd), some aggrieved ex-agitators have given PAP two weeks ultimatum to publish the document containing the names of the scholarship beneficiaries, else they will embark on a peaceful protest to demand for their rights.
Speaking with newsmen in Yenagoa on Friday, President Ijaw Defenders Mandate (IDM), Comr. John Gbozimor, alleged that some aides of the immediate past Interim Administrator of PAP had shortchanged the names of the ex-agitators with other persons that were not part of the programme, insisting that PAP must publish the names of the 1, 714 beneficiaries in the 2021/2022 PAP scholarship in national dailies to ascertain how many ex-agitators made the bogus list containing names of every Tom, Dick and Harry.
The group also called on the new Interim Administrator of PAP, Maj. Gen. Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd) to immediately set up an audit panel to investigate the process that culminated the 1, 714 scholarship awards to determine the exact number of ex-agitators that benefitted from the scholarships awarded by Col. Milland Dikio, reiterating that some aides of Col. Dikio had shortchanged the ex-agitators in scholarship scheme which according to IDM, was hurriedly put together by the aides for their selfish interests.
“We are giving the new Interim Administrator of PAP, Gen. Ndiomu (rtd) two weeks ultimatum to publish the list of the 1,714 beneficiaries of the scholarship within fourteen day, else, we will not hesitate to occupy the streets across the Niger Delta states to demand for the publication of the names of the beneficiaries of the scholarship.
“It is so painful that after we have sacrificed our lives in the Niger Delta struggle, now we cannot benefit from the scholarships meant for us in the Presidential Amnesty Programme. Rather, it is now strangers that have come to take our chances. Neither we, nor our children cannot gain Amnesty scholarships anymore.
“Most of us who voluntarily submitted our arms and ammunition to the federal government for the sake of peace in the Niger Delta region have been shortchanged. If that list of 1,714 scholarship is not published in the next two weeks, we may not have any other option than to embark on a massive peaceful protest across the Niger Delta states to demand our right”, the President of Ijaw Defenders Mandate (IDM) averred.
On its part, the Ijaw Integrity Movement (IIM) in a recent statement credited to one Brakumo Thomas had castigated the new Interim Administrator of PAP, Maj. Gen. Barry Ndiomu (rtd) over comments on the PAP scholarship racketeering, claiming that PAP’s scholarships were not sold to non Niger Deltans. The group had accused Gen. Ndiomu of trying to cast aspersion on the immediate past interim administrator, Col Milland Dikio (rtd) whom they had linked the award of 1000 scholarships to, as against the actual figure 1,714 beneficiaries.
Comr. John Gbozimor hinted that the immediate past Interim Administrator actually awarded 1,714 scholarships out of which 1, 662 beneficiaries were deployed in local institutions, whilie 52 were deployed in foreign institutions in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Ukraine and the United States of America (USA).
However, a statement credited to the website of the Presidential Amnesty Programme in the last administration showed an advert, informing the public that: “This is to inform the general public that the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) Scholarship application form and portal is open to all interested and qualified Nigerians.”
It will be recalled that during separate meetings with the new Interim Administrator, Maj. Gen. Ndiomu (rtd) in Port Harcourt Rivers State, recently, chairmen of phases 1, 2 and 3 of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, HRH. Henry Binidodogha, Asu Tambo and Tonye Bobo, respectively, lamented how they (ex-agitators) had been shortchanged in the programme, regretting that after sacrificing their lives and voluntarily submitting their arms and ammunition to the federal government for the sake of peace in the Niger Delta region and Nigeria in general others have to come through the back door to takes their chances.
They however expressed hope that Gen. Ndiomu would match words with actions by implementing his good intentions to enable the ex-agitators to benefit, reiterating that, instead of becoming the key beneficiaries, they have rather been shortchanged over the years with nothing to show for their sacrifices which birthed the programme.
The Presidential Amnesty Programme was established to train the ex-agitators to become entrepreneurs who will act as agents of change to reverse the narrative of a people dependent on stipends to become self-employed or employers of labour as net contributors to the economic prosperity of the Niger Delta.