Leaders of ex-agitators enlisted in the first phase of the Presidential Amnesty Programme met on Tuesday with the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Charles Dokubo, to chart a course ahead of the 2019 polls.
The forthcoming presidential election was top on the agenda of the meeting which was held at the instance of the ex-agitators at Casa De Lucy Hotel in Abuja.
Reuben Wilson, who led 31phase one leaders of ex-agitators in the Amnesty Programme to the meeting, said it was to consult with Mr Dokubo for a clear direction on political alignment of the Niger Delta people.
“First of all, we thank you because you have tried and what you have been doing in this programme, especially recognising the leaders and giving them empowerment. This is something people have not been doing but when you came, you said no, your mission here is to make sure that we succeed in this programme.
“Let me from this point explain why we said we needed this meeting with you. This is an hour of politics; people are moving from one political party to another.
“Presidential aspirants are meeting people every day and night but we the committed leaders of the Amnesty Programme, had not have a say. The reason being that we have a leader who is the head of this programme, and the leader is no other person than you sir.
“We are here to get directive from you; we are here to know where we will dance to and to know your mind. We are here to get everything about this forthcoming election from you so that the leaders under this programme will know what to do. Even though most of us here have been pressured by some groups to dance right or left, but we still believe we have a leader who is overseeing this programme and before we take a decision, we have to hear from you.”
While noting that they had been abandoned after working to support previous administrations during elections, they expressed hope that it would be different this time.
“Even if the leaders and followers have been abandoned after working tirelessly for previous governments during elections, we believe it is necessary to hear from you. We pray that if you say we should dance to left or right, we will not be abandoned again because it is not easy for people to struggle, others win and those that suffered will remain the same. We pray that you will speak to us wisely so that we will understand.”
In his response, Mr Dokubo described President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as reliable. He said it was imperative for the people of Niger Delta to be at the mainstream politically, to regain loses occasioned by being at the periphery.
“I want all of us to think deep and fast on what we will benefit if our people do not support this administration and bring back President Buhari; the alternative will be too ghastly to even contemplate. This programme is on and for me, this government has been so reliable; we just have a little hitch in the releases, but the support of this government for the programme is enormous.
“I want the Niger Delta to be in the mainstream of this government, that this government should be our own government. Don’t distract attention; let us focus on what we are supposed to do and gain. Instead of agonising, let us organise ourselves better in groups, not individually.
“I am now making a political plea because you said you want to know where you can lean or move. For me, even if I don’t announce it to you, I come from an academic background, but I was appointed by a government. I will fight hard for this administration. As you go home to you camps, let us do all that it takes to return this government so that our own areas can be at the centre and benefit from it. It is the only way to sustain this programme.”
Mr Dokubo warned them against juicy offers that would be made to secure their support for the 2019 election.
“They can tell you all sorts and promise you heaven on earth but let us be focused and move this programme to higher heights and achieve all that we have set for ourselves and make the Niger Delta great again. I will not fail you. These are political times and there is temptation. There are people parading themselves as leaders. They will come and seek your opinion, tell you they will do better, but be wise”, he admonished.
In attendance at the meeting were leaders of Niger Delta ex-agitators from Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo and Edo states.