By Allen Ibiba-Harry
The appointment of Major-General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd), as the new Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), has raised another level of expectation among the people of the Niger Delta.
Ndiomu’s recent appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari, barely eight months to the end of his tenure, came as a shocker to most people from the region. The news brought some kind of mixed feelings among stakeholders.
Prior to the announcement, there was a popular school of thought that the tenure of Colonel Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), the erstwhile Interim Administrator would be extended.
That sentiment was built around the peace and stability that the PAP has enjoyed under Dikio in the last two years. But being his prerogative to hire and fire, Buhari had other plans and so Ndiomu is the new helmsman.
Known to have a rich background in public policy formulation and administration, Ndiomu hails from Odoni in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and was admitted to the Nigerian Defence Academy as part of the 29th Regular Combatant Course.
He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1983. He held several command and staff appointments in the course of his successful military career. He retired in December 2017. He also trained as a lawyer and is an alumnus of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, Badagry, Harvard Kennedy School, and George C Marshall Centre for European Security Studies, among others.
Like his predecessor, Ndiomu is also not a stranger to Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programmes. In the course of his shining and successful military career, he had a stint with it and so it is not in doubt his capacity to deliver. He is also conversant with the amnesty deal and knows the challenges that the region has faced for many years.
Perhaps all of that and being a true son of the soil had already made people of the region, particularly stakeholders to embrace him. Within the last two weeks of his appointment, the avalanche of solidarity and goodwill messages indicates the mass appeal he has.
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), described Ndiomu’s appointment as well deserving and assured him of their readiness and commitment to work for the success of his new task.
National Spokesman of the IYC, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, however appealed to the new amnesty boss to “shun any divisive calls by known sycophants to derail him on the part of chasing shadows, but focus on building a more positive and proper inter-agency line of communication with the PAP beneficiaries across the region. Pay monthly stipends promptly, have regular interactive sections/engagements with stakeholders in the region”.
He said: “The new administrator should also provide the needed transition that is expected to sustain the existing paradigm shift on the programme in terms of relative peace across the region, change in mindset of ex-agitators, upward oil production, entrepreneurship and engagements with stakeholders.
“Managing ex-agitators is the most difficult job that can be given to anybody as available evidence has shown in the past, but with Ndiomu’s experience as an ex-military General and his love for his people, no doubt, the stability of the program in Dikio’s era will be sustained.
“Consequent upon this, Major General Barry Ndiomu (Rtd) has the full assurances and cooperation of the Ijaw Youth Council to achieving his ideas and purpose for the program and region at large, especially, in the areas of peacebuilding, security and development”.
Also, ex-agitators in the Niger Delta have applauded Ndiomu’s appointment as the new Interim Administrator, of the PAP, saying they are ready to work with him, to promote the peace and development of the region.
The National Secretary, First Phase ex-agitators, Pastor Nature Keighe, said they would give Ndiomu the same support they extended to his predecessor and also appealed to him to continue with some ongoing programmes initiated by Dikio which had helped to sustain the peace in the region.
Keighe, who is also the Chairman, PAP’s Strategic Communication Committee said “We want to formally appreciate Mr president for not allowing any vacuum in PAP. We want to appreciate him for appointing Maj. Gen. Ndiomu as the new Interim Administrator, PAP.
“We want to use the opportunity to welcome our leader and father to the office of PAP. We will give him all the support he needs for the interest of the Niger Delta region.
“What we have begun to do with PAP under the leadership of Col. Milland Dixon Dikio, we will do it for his administration, with the focus of ensuring that the Niger Delta becomes a more peaceful environment for people to do business for development.
“We will bring to your notice, the various programmes we have been undertaking in the region to sustain the peace. We wish you all the best and pray to God to guide and give you the wisdom to pilot the affairs of the region.
“As ex-agitators in the region, our responsibility is to protect the region and every programme that is positioned to enhance the human capacity development of the region”.
In fact, there is no doubt that Ndiomu has the capacity to steer the ship of PAP to its required destination. The stakeholders are anxiously waiting for him to roll out his programmes and projects that will deepen the peace in the region in line with the overall mandate of PAP.