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SPECIAL REPORT: Prof. Charles Dokubo’s footprints at Amnesty Office

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The Presidential Amnesty Programme is set to graduate no fewer than 137 persons trained in different vocational skills, its Official has said.
As a first step after mounting the saddle, Dokubo constituted a committee headed by a university teacher, Prof. Ayibaemi Spiff, to review operations of the Amnesty Programme. Part of the findings of the committee was that while the Amnesty Office had undertaken the construction of five Vocational Training/Reintegration Centres across states in the Niger Delta, however, even when two of the centres (in Ondo and Bayelsa States) were near  completion, had been activated for the training of thousands of persons enrolled on the Programme that are yet to be skilled due to the failure of the Amnesty Office to pay in full the contract sums, lack of proper supervision and demand for variation by some of the contractors.

Madam Ekioukere Foster hails from Bayelsa State but resident in Bomadi, headquarters of Bomadi Local Government of Delta State. A few weeks ago, she was among thousands of beneficiaries of starter packs distributed by the Presidential Amnesty Programme to empower residents of communities impacted during the Niger Delta crises. Since luck visited her through the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Amnesty Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, the 57-year-old woman has been consumed by joy and a burning zeal for a new life fired by hope.

Ekioukere shares same fate with several Niger Deltans including the aged, youth, men and women. While beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme are savouring a new dawn, residents of communities in the Niger Delta region have also invested a balloon of hope in the Programme propelled by Prof. Dokubo’s passion for work and commitment. And they hold belief that their optimism is not misplaced.

Wednesday March 13, 2019 marked Dokubo’s one year in office, a period characterized by fresh initiatives and events that has put smiles on the faces of not only beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme, but on their parents, brothers and sisters. For close watchers of activities at the Amnesty Office, that the Abonnema, Rivers State-born erudite professor of international repute and nuclear scientist recorded tremendous achievements within a period of one year was not surprising as he set out to pilot the Amnesty Programme on full throttle.

SPECIAL REPORT: Prof. Charles Dokubo’s footprints at Amnesty Office

Angel of peace

On assumption of office in March 2018, Dokubo engaged critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta in consultative meetings geared towards deepening peace in the volatile region. Apart from key leaders of ex-agitators, he also met severally Niger Delta elders, elders and stakeholders in Lagos. Among critical stakeholders who attended some of the meetings were Chief Bibopre Ajube, aka General Shoot-at-Sight; Dr. Ebikabowei Victor Ben, alias Boyloaf, and a representative HRH Ateke Tom. Representatives of other frontline leaders of ex-agitators in the Niger Delta including Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo, also attended.

On June 7, 2018, he met with over 30 Phase One leaders of Niger Delta ex-agitators at the Abuja Sheraton Hotels and Towers in furtherance of his peace efforts, and parleyed 70 Phase Two and Three leaders the next day at same venue. He had earlier hosted the leadership of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), and visited a former Federal Commissioner for Information and respected Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, in his determination to deepen peace in the Niger Delta.

 

A New Dawn

As a first step after mounting the saddle, Dokubo constituted a committee headed by a university teacher, Prof. Ayibaemi Spiff, to review operations of the Amnesty Programme. Part of the findings of the committee was that while the Amnesty Office had undertaken the construction of five Vocational Training/Reintegration Centres across states in the Niger Delta, however, even when two of the centres (in Ondo and Bayelsa States) were near  completion, had been activated for the training of thousands of persons enrolled on the Programme that are yet to be skilled due to the failure of the Amnesty Office to pay in full the contract sums, lack of proper supervision and demand for variation by some of the contractors.

Interestingly, of the 30,000 persons enlisted in the Presidential Amnesty Programme, 11,297 persons are yet to be placed in either vocational training facilities or deployed for formal education as of when Dokubo assumed office.

But he has completed, equipped and activated the Oil and Gas Vocational Training Centre at Agadagba-Obon, Ondo State, and also commissioned the Basic Skills Vocational Training Centre at Boro Town, Bayelsa State. To fast track the training of the several beneficiaries awaiting skills acquisition, Prof. Dokubo performed a foundation laying ceremony for an Agricultural Vocational Training Centre in Gelegele, Edo State on Friday, February 15, just as he has intensified efforts to complete a Power and Energy Vocational Training Centre located at Bomadi, Delta State, and the Maritime Vocational Training Centre at Oboama, Rivers State. So far, a total of 1, 401 beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme have been trained in various skills between March 13, 2018 when he assumed office to date.

Propelled  by the fact that the success of the Reintegration component of the Amnesty Programme depended largely on the Re-insertion part of it which entails aiding processes of returning already trained ex-agitators to civil society, Dokubo has took bold steps on empowerment, through the provision of start-up packs and mentoring for several already trained and qualified ex-agitators to become entrepreneurs. In this regard, 1,165 already trained beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme were empowered in various trade areas within his one year in office.

In the area of education, 1,230 beneficiaries of the Programme were offered scholarship and deployed in 11 partnering institutions within the country between January 30 and 31, 2019, while about 35 are set to be deployed to various institutions offshore.  207 students spread across 66 institutions in 20 countries are currently studying various courses. On Thursday, July 19, 2018, he visited students sponsored by the Amnesty Programme in London and met with 47 students and recent graduates from 25 institutions in the UK at the Nigeria High Commission. The objective of the visit was to enable him evaluate the students’ academic progress, celebrate those completing their programmes and charge the remaining ones to be good ambassadors of the Programme.

Determined to facilitate job placement for beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme, Prof. Dokubo created a Job Placement and International Development Partners Engagement Unit (JPIDPEU) on May 2, 2018. So far, the unit has profiled 28 delegates for underwater welding jobs in oil servicing companies; 100 delegates for civil service jobs and 10 delegates for aviation crop spray pilot jobs. It has also concluded profiling of 25 delegates for catering services, hotel and fast food jobs and 75 delegates for other job opportunities.

This is just the beginning of an action plan of the Post Training Engagement and Job Placement units of the Amnesty Office for the next two years. Besides, a DFID funded project –to MADE (Market Development in the Niger Delta), is sponsoring a training for trainers programme for 20 beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme in Agricultural Extension.

At the launch of the training on Tuesday, February 16, 2019 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Dokubo said his vision of creating a Job Placement and International Partners Engagement Unit (JP-IDPE) last year has started yielding results. While describing the Train the Trainer (ToT) programme on Nigeria Agricultural Enterprise Curriculum for 20 graduate beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme as historic, he noted that the partnership project was the first of its kind in the Amnesty Programme and expressed optimism that it will create pathways for other international agencies to partner the Amnesty Office.

SPECIAL REPORT: Prof. Charles Dokubo’s footprints at Amnesty Office …One year after“On my appointment and assumption of duty as Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme in 2018, I studied the existing implementation strategies and realized that little effort had been made to extend a hand of partnership to relevant international organizations. In order to rectify this omission, I created the Job Placement and International Development Partners Engagement Unit on May 2, 2018. I am glad that my vision has paid off today. The JP-IDPE unit network produced this MADE project that we see today and we look forward to having more of it”.

To ensure that the project is sustained, Dokubo said beneficiaries of the training programme would be certified as Amnesty Programme training consultants in all vocational and empowerment refresher programmes of Agric-based contracts, and future agric training programmes  will as a matter of criteria utilize trained MADE beneficiaries as a requisite for their contract liabilities and payments.

Recently, the Director General National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Moji Adeyeye granted approval for the Amnesty Programme to use 23 Technology Incubation centres allocated to the office by National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI) for cluster manufacturing by beneficiaries of the Programme. The centres would be used by delegates to produce their products for the purpose of obtaining NAFDAC Registration numbers. The delegates have been trained on production of rice, garri, plantain-flour, plantain-chips, chinchin, smoked fish, chicken, snail and fruit juice production, among others.

On his path to charting a new course for the Amnesty Programme, Dokubo has surmounted several obstacles by sheer determination. And the tonic required to motive him is the support and encouragement from critical stakeholders and other quarters which he doesn’t lack. For Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwabushi who spoke at the commissioning of the Oil and Gas Basic Skills Vocational Training Centre, Agadagba-Obon, Ese Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State, Dokubo deserve commendation for his prudent management of funds allocated to the Amnesty Programme and his transparency.

“The Presidential Amnesty Programme which was established in the year 2009 has had four chief executives as Special Advisers/Coordinators. Of all the four, I can confidently say that the present Coordinator has been very proactive and eager to realize the mandate of the Programme…In his short time in office, he has really demonstrated capacity to transform the Niger Delta region for sustainable development. Our committee is very pleased with his efforts; he is a square peg in a square hole”.

While the Director of Research at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State, Prof.  Habu Galadima says Dokubo has provided the needed strategic leadership towards actualizing the objectives of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the ruling All Progressive Party (APC) gave him kudos for deepening peace and stabilizing the Niger Delta. In a letter of commendation signed by its national secretary, Mai Mala Buni, the APC applauded Dokubo’s efforts at ensuring development in the oil-rich region. It said the positive transformation of the Presidential Amnesty Programme was in line with the Change Agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

But for Dokubo, the glory goes to the Almighty God and to President Buhari who has been a pillar of support for the people of Niger Delta. “Let me place on record that we are able to achieve all these because of the staunch and unalloyed support President Muhammadu Buhari has been giving the Amnesty Programme and the Niger Delta as a whole. On his fatherly watch, we have since re-worked the Programme to focus on not just training but also job creation and empowerment of already trained beneficiaries. I can confirm to all stakeholders gathered here today that President Buhari loves the Niger Delta and its people”.

SOURCE: 247UReports

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INVESTIGATION

Publication threats: Billionaire bank debtors​ lobby CBN Gov to save faces​

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  • Our decision meant to avert another banking crisis – DMBs

 

Fresh information reaching The Witness has revealed that some top Nigerian billionaires are currently lobbying the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele to save their heads following threats by chief executive officers of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in Nigeria to share details of chronic debtors and blacklist such.

The Witness reliably gathered from inside sources that since the disclosure of the decision by the bank CEOs, some top moneybags have continued to pressure the apex bank and its head honcho to intervene in the decision of the lender to give them time to clear up their debts.

Aside from this development affecting their businesses, bank debtors are more uncomfortable with the idea of making their names public, especially at a trying time like this. They are deeply afraid that the policy may throw them out of business, especially for those of them who need foreign exchange to operate.

Chronic debtors, analysts say, are those debtors who are unwilling to repay their loans to the banks.

The decision which the DMB’s are ready to implement to the letter, is aimed at forestalling the growing amount of non-performing loans NPLs, in the books of financial institutions to avert another banking crisis in the country.

Recall, CEOs of DMBs across the country recently agreed to share details of chronic debtors and blacklist such.

The bankers made this known after a meeting held to discuss how some debtors have been allegedly using law enforcement agencies to harass and criminalize bank CEOs.

In a statement, the group said the affected debtors are not ready to repay their loans. The group spoke in Lagos after reviewing what it called the “harassment and criminalization of banks’ CEOs by law enforcement agencies.” It noted that chronic bank debtors were now in the habit of enlisting law enforcement agencies including police, judiciary and state security to harass and criminalize bank CEOs, saying this was unacceptable. “Notably, these loan defaulters are known to have abused court processes as well as using social media to propagate their smear campaign against the banks,” the group said.

A communique issued following the meeting noted that these activities by the law enforcement agencies and the bank debt defaulters were capable of adversely affecting the banking system vis-à-vis the CEOs’ reputation amongst international banks, destroy the economy, and called for these to be checked and managed.

In order to tackle what they see as an emerging threat to banking business in Nigeria, the committee outlined a five-step resolution of actions that banks would need to take. The resolutions and planned actions were arrived at after members discussed and considered different options for dealing with the issue.

Specifically, the banks’ CEOs said there was an urgent need for all banks to cooperate and collaborate to identify and ex-communicate chronic debt defaulters, noting that this goes beyond “publishing names of such defaulters in national media (which is inevitable), but involves all banks speaking with ‘one voice’ and sharing information about those entities, and refusing to do further business with them until they settle their obligations.”

To avoid the kind of crisis that rocked the banking sector 10 years ago, the CEOs urged all agencies and stakeholders to step up and help fight the inherent menace of chronic loan defaulters.

According to the CEOs, the banking industry is the backbone of the Nigerian economy, therefore, it is the responsibility of all stakeholders – regulators, police, judiciary, corporate organizations and media to help save it from activities of delinquent debtors.

Besides, the group resolved that all cases of defaults would be presented and passed through the Bankers’ Committee Ethics Committee just as it intends to work with legal councils and come up with ways and strategies to manage related cases effectively without disrupting businesses and the system.

In a recent publication, Access Bank had threatened to publish the names of customers refusing to settle their debts in national dailies.

In a statement, the bank had said it is acting in line with a directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“All Access Bank Plc (including former Diamond Bank Plc) debtors are directed to pay up their past due obligations in order to avoid punitive actions being taken against them,” the bank said.

The statement added, “Please note that we shall publish our debtors’ names in newspapers in two weeks.

“Similarly, in the event that these obligations are not fulfilled, we shall take such further actions against such delinquent individuals and companies as we may consider necessary and shall relentlessly pursue full recovery of all our debts.”

While experts appear to condemn the act of borrowing and refusing to repay the loans, they are more afraid of the bad implication it could have on the macro economy.

Managing director/CEO at BIC Consultancy Services, Dr. Boniface Chizea, in a chat with newsmen believes that since the CBN has autonomy it can take decisions in the best interest of the economy.

He, however, said the idea was good for the banks, but advised that caution should be applied in order to publish only names of those who actually owe.

”The autonomy of the Central Bank should have instrument autonomy which implies that the Central Bank should have unhindered freedom to decide on how best to achieve its mandate without any dictation from any quarters. If the Bankers’ Committee which the CBN chairs decides to publish the names of debtors, so be it.

“We just hope that in embarking on this name-and-shame approach, due care is exercised so that the names of actual debtors are published.

”We had an experience during the immediate past administration when a deluge of rebuttals and retractions followed an attempt to embark on similar exercise. We must avoid such embarrassments this time around.

“If names are to be published, due care must be exercised to ensure the names of only those culpable are published. It is embarrassing and unfair otherwise considering the potential damage to reputation such a move will occasion. It is not good for the creditors for their names to so published as most of these recalcitrant debtors are the juggernauts in our midst; the movers and shakers; the financiers of electoral campaigns who often think that because of their access to the powers that be they remain beyond the law.

”This is a last resort desperate measure meant to stem the wind of distress overtaking the banks leading to a harvest of bank failures. It is good for the banks generally as it has the effect of sanitizing the banks to restore them to sound health to continue to provide banking services, sustain the going concern and continue to return dividends to their many shareholders and stakeholders,” he concluded.

It would be recalled that the immediate-past CBN governor, now Emir Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had published names of those indebted to some of the banks that failed the second phase of the apex bank’s stress test in 2009.

Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON had in 2013 called a governorship candidate in one of the South-south states of Nigeria a chronic debtor for his unwillingness to liquidate his debt to some banks.

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Homeowners accuse CMB Building Company, its CEO Mbagwu of fraud, petition EFCC

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The residents of Pearl Garden Estate and Pearl Nuga Park Estate located at Sangotedo in Lekki/Ajah area of Lagos State have petitioned against the CMB Building Maintenance and Investment Company Ltd to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged fraudulent mortgage of some of their homes to secure unapproved bank loans.

Meanwhile, the association of homeowners in the estates have barred representatives of CMB, a building and maintenance firm owned by Kelechukwu Mbagwu from maintaining the homes at Pearl Nuga Park Estate and Pearl Garden Estate.

The separate petitions dated May 28, 2019 and addressed to the EFCC Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, were signed by Mr Patrick Olowokere, the President of Pearl Nuga Estate and Reverend Adesola Adebawo, President of Pearl Garden Estate respectively.

According to the petitioners, CMB obtained a mortgage from Wema Bank Plc using the affected homes at Pearl Nuga Estate as collateral without the knowledge or consent of the affected homeowners.

Image: Repossessed property at Pearl Gardens Estate from fraudulently-obtained bank loan

“The affected homeowners, namely; Bridget Eko, Osagie Aimiehnoho Jude, Mr Akinola Alabi, Mrs Oluwadara Alabi, Nosakhare Igbinobi and Amos Gaga, paid CMB for those houses to be built and had taken possession of their houses from CMB at different times.

“CMB and Mr Mbagwu fraudulently withheld the title deeds of the houses from the affected homeowners as it withheld those of several other homeowners within the estate,” they alleged in a petition duly acknowledged and signed by the EFCC, copy of which was obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

However, the bank has begun a recovery of the six houses within the estate following the failure of CMB, the property developer, to repay the loan, according to the petitioners.

Similarly, Pearl Garden Estate also accused CMB of using the homes of four of their members — Mr and Mrs Michael Bassey, Mr Oyeleke Jegede, Mr Larry Amaraibi and one Mr Felix — who had already paid in full to allegedly obtain a N10 million loan from Diamond Bank (now Access Bank).

Meanwhile, the association of homeowners in the estates have barred staff or representatives of CMB from Pearl Nuga Park Estate and Pearl Garden Estate.

The petitioners said, “We have no other choice but to believe that other houses of our members and homeowners within the estates may be the subject of similar fraudulent mortgages.’’

Another resident, Mr A. Akeredolu, said: “Some of us have waited endlessly for the commencement of the ‘fictitious’ Pearl Royale Scheme, Pearl Garden Extension and Pearl Nuga Park.

“We paid for these in full since 2010 but have yet to be shown the location of our purchases, let alone the allocations.

“We know projects fail, but they have yet to make any official statement or promise of refund. These people are so bold and fearless, one wonders who is backing them!”

All efforts by our reporter to reach Mr. Mbagwu for his angle to the allegations proved futile as calls and text messages placed to his mobile line were not responded to as at press time.

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Presidential panel probes Delta Senator, Peter Nwaoboshi over corruption allegations

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Senator Peter Nwaoboshi is in hot soup as the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property has referred him to the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Etsu Umar, for prosecution.

In its letter signed on behalf of the chairman of the panel, Okoi Obono-Obla, by Dr. Celsus Ukpong, urged the DPP to prosecute the senator on charges bordering on his failure to declare his assets before the panel in violation of section 3(i)(a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act 2004.

The letter stated that the violation was punishable by the same provision of the Act.

It stated that it had forwarded draft charges to the DPP.

Accompanying the letter dated June 7, 2019, and received by the DPP office on June 10, 2019, were documents contained in the case file forwarded to the Ministry of Justice.

The letter read, “I am directed to you above-named case file for further action.

“The above suspect is under investigation before us for possession of suspicious assets far and beyond his legitimate earnings.

“He has refused to declare his assets before the panel after lawful demand by the special presidential investigation panel.

“This refusal is contrary to and punishable under section 3(i)(a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act 2004. It shall be appreciated if a charge is brought against him for his offence pending the conclusion of the investigation.”

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