Niger Delta Amnesty Programme – Battle for Leadership Heats Up

The Niger Delta region is currently a cauldron of intrigue and political maneuvering, as 14 prominent figures from the oil-rich states of Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers are vying for the coveted position of Special Adviser to the President on Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).

The current holder of this vital role, Maj. Gen. Barry Ndiomu (rtd), saw his one-year interim tenure come to an end on September 19.

While Ndiomu remained in office for over a month after the official expiration of his tenure, it is understood that he was being retained by authorities in the Presidency until the necessary steps were taken to appoint his successor. Further investigation reveals that his retention was also linked to the awaiting fund releases required for him to meet financial commitments to repentant militants under the amnesty initiative.

Multiple sources close to the Presidency disclosed that 14 individuals from the Niger Delta region, predominantly representing the Ijaw, Itsekiri, and Urhobo ethnic groups, were subjected to comprehensive background checks by security agencies. This scrutiny is part of the process to select the new leader responsible for coordinating the activities and welfare of former militant leaders and ex-agitators in the region.

Sources within the Presidency revealed that the initial list of 14 candidates had been narrowed down to three, with names redacted to maintain confidentiality. Among these final contenders, two hail from the Ijaw ethnic group, while one is of Urhobo descent. Their identities have been forwarded to the national security adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, and the chief of staff to the president, Femi Gbajabiamila, for careful consideration.

The ultimate decision rests with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is expected to select one of the three candidates. The individuals vying for this influential role come from Bayelsa and Delta States, a reflection of the geopolitical significance of these states in the Niger Delta region.

Notably, it has been revealed that despite Maj. Gen. Ndiomu’s interest in retaining his role, he has been dissuaded from seeking reappointment by the Presidency. Instead, Ndiomu is said to have been offered an alternative appointment within another government agency.

Among the noteworthy contenders, Dr. Chris Ekiyor, the former president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), and Chief Michael Jonny, a prominent member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State who has also served as a former commissioner, stand out. Others include Bosin Ebikeme, an influential member of the APC, Chief Dan Ekpebide, Dr. Dennis Otuaro, Mr. Moses Ogodo, Mr. Mode David Akoma, Rt. Hon. Daniel Reyinieju, Chief Mike Loyibo, and Chief Sheriff Mulade, a renowned environmentalist.

This appointment is more than just a political transition; it holds great significance for the Niger Delta region, its peace, and its aspirations. The selected leader will wield considerable influence over the region’s stability, and their appointment will reflect not only the geopolitical dynamics but also the political considerations that govern the Niger Delta’s future.

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