The Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd) has held a crucial meeting with five prominent former militant leaders in the Niger Delta famously referred to as the Big Five.
It was gathered that the former five commanders of the defunct Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) who met with Dikio were the Amayanabo of Okochiri in Okirika, Rivers State, King Ateke Tom; Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo; Victor Ben Ebikabowei aka Boyloaf and High Chief Ajube Bibopiri popularly called Shoot-at-Sight.
It was learnt that though Tompolo was not present at the meeting, he sent a representative.
It was further gathered that the meeting, which was called at the instance of Dikio, held at the palace of Ateke Tom in Okochiri on Friday.
A source, who attended the parley, said it was designed to find lasting solutions to emerging threats to the fragile peace in the region.
The source, who spoke in confidence and described the meeting as strategic, said the amnesty boss intimated the former creek warlords about the reforms in the amnesty office and the new direction of the programme.
He said Dikio reeled out the reasons for the failures of the scheme in the past and solicited their cooperation to realise the main objectives of PAP.
He added that the amnesty boss emphasised the need to deepen the peace in the Niger Delta and tackle all the threats in the region insisting that President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Security Adviser (NSA) desired an optimum performance for PAP.
“Dikio was more particular about sustaining peace in the region. He insisted that without peace the region would not develop and called on the Big Five to help in deepening the existing peace and eliminating all the threats in the region. It was a fruitful deliberation that strengthened the bond of brotherhood for the overall good of the Niger Delta.”
He further quoted the amnesty boss as saying: “This meeting is for us to sit down together in a friendly atmosphere and have a heart to heart discussion on the past, present and the future of the PAP.”
The source said after the general meeting, Dikio met behind closed doors with the former militant “generals” and later had dinner with them.
One of the pioneers of PAP, Richard Akinika, confirmed the meeting and commended Dikio for consulting critical stakeholders describing it as a step in the right direction.
He said the previous two administrators failed woefully because they refused to undertake the first step of consulting the owners of the programme.
Akinika said: “The meeting was a familiarity visit. PAP is about the leaders, who came out boldly and submitted their arms. The previous two administrators after Kingsley Kuku failed woefully which informed suspensions, investigations and led to the emergence of this sole administration.
“For me as a pioneer of that programme what the man has done is the right thing. When you come to somewhere you need to meet with the people, who own the programme, seek their opinion and sound them out on what their expectations are and it will inform your starting point.
“The man has started well. He is a Niger Delta man; a retired colonel and one, who has run such programme outside the country. What he has done is a good step. This is what others failed to do that made them fail.
“If you don’t have the support of the owners of the project, it will derail. It was an opportunity for the leaders to meet themselves. Boyloaf, Shoot-at-Sight and King Ateke Tom. It was like the old days and the need for them to work together.”