The interim administrator of the Presidential Programme (PAP), Colonel Milland Dixon Dikio (Rtd), has said the era of servicing contractors and their cronies is over in the programme.
He said efforts would now be concentrated on training ex-agitators.
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Col Dikio said that the PAP would no longer patronize contractors at the expense of the real owners of the programme which are the ex-agitators, just as it would no longer fund the scholarship of students in areas that are not of comparative advantage to the region.
He stated this on Friday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, during a parley with the leadership of the first phase of the programme.
Col Dikio decried the existing situation which allows contractors to gulp 85 per cent of the total funds accrued to the PAP, while those the programme was instituted for are left with the remaining fraction, stressing that it was hardly enough for training and empowering them.
He said: “The PAP will no longer be contractor-driven. We are not going to engage in tokenism.
“I am not going to award contracts or go into projects just for the heck of it. Never, I won’t. Rather I will focus on ‘train, mentor and employ’.
“That is our new philosophy. The same applies to scholarship. Scholarship is a privilege and not a right.
“We will focus on training in those areas that we have a comparative advantage.
“Hence, rather than train our people as pilots where they will end up looking for non-existent jobs after undergoing such an expensive training, I will rather train our people in the maritime area where we have natural, latent abilities.
“We are adopting an apprenticeship system of training, mentor and employ. It’s an end to end package.
“There are outstanding 8,000 ex-agitators registered, captured in the amnesty programme that are yet to receive training.
“Those 8,000 people are going to be our focus. We will also focus on those who have been trained and have not been empowered.
“For the rest 22,000 who have been trained and empowered, the question I often ask is where are they? How can you claim to have trained such a huge number of persons and yet the impact is not felt in the region.
“Towards this end, I am determined to work with all committed stakeholders to refocus the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) to its original mandate of development and security in the Niger Delta”, he said.
In his remarks, Speaker of the Bayelsa State of House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abraham Ingobere, who attended the meeting as a member of the first phase leadership, applauded Col. Dikio for his focused leadership since his assumption of office.
He said the prompt payment of monthly stipends to ex-agitators is one effort of Dikio that deserves to be commended, stressing that the beneficiaries are happier for it.