Maj.-Gen Barry Ndiomu (rtd), PAP AI (L) presents the cooperative society certificate of registration to HRM Francis Tabai, Board Chair
A cooperative society for the benefit of ex-agitators in Niger Delta was on Wednesday inaugurated by the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
Christened Cooperative Society Limited (PAPCOSOL), and a duly registered limited liability company, Major-General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd), PAP interim administrator, performed the launch in the bid to create sustainable livelihoods for Niger Delta ex-agitators and make delegates self-reliant contributors to the national economy.
The launch and presentation of PAPCOSOL’s Certificate of Registration, held at the Conference Room of the PAP Headquarters in Abuja, was witnessed by the leaders of ex-agitators and delegates, members of the Advisory Board of PAPCOSOL, management and staff of PAP, as well as the media.
Apart from the Chairman of the Advisory Board, His Royal Majesty (Dr.) Francis Tabai, a retired Honourable Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, who formally but gleefully received the registration certificate from Ndiomu on behalf of the board, other members of the board include Brigadier-General Emmanuel Salubi (rtd) and Comrade Joseph Eva, a Niger Delta social and environmental activist.
Explaining the objectives and how the legacy project of his administration would change the socio-economic narrative of the Niger Delta, Ndiomu said it would adopt a private sector-driven approach.
Said he: “Our unique approach is designed to develop businesses that align with the motivations of beneficiaries, give them access to the market, access to credit and other technical and human resources that will help lead their lives and that of their communities into prosperity.
“In practical reality, through, the initiative of a Cooperative Society, PAP under this dispensation aims to identify and build the capacity of beneficiaries to participate in market system opportunities; enable beneficiaries to find ease in doing business; locate high performing markets and facilitate sustainable connections with stakeholders such as farmers, processors or manufacturers and other market players; the initiative would also create opportunities for beneficiaries to build additional and sustainable means of livelihoods in agriculture, renewable energy, health and technology as well as facilitate meaningful networks with development partners that will further empower the cooperative scheme with funding and technical partnerships”.
Ndiomu stated that at this take-off stage, priority focus would be given to agriculture and manufacturing value chain sectors, such as rice plantation and processing, with consideration to other sectors under medium and long-term plans. He disclosed that the cooperative initiative had a take-off sum of N1.5 billion deposited with the Providus Bank, that could immediately be accessed by beneficiaries, adding that additional N500 million would be provided monthly.
He further revealed ongoing engagements with funding authorities such as the European Union (EU), the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), the Bank of Industry (BOI) and the NEXIM Bank for possibility of pooling more funds to the cooperative scheme.
Said Ndiomu: “Over the years, the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), has implemented various reintegration initiatives broadly built around training and empowerment/employment of beneficiaries but with less than stellar results. This has led many to question the Programme design and management despite the best efforts of previous administrations.
“The continued dependence of beneficiaries on monthly stipends has only served to underscore these widely held assertions. This has given cause for a new thinking that would better position PAP to more surely achieve its Reintegration mandate.
“The Presidential Amnesty Programme (Beneficiaries) Cooperative Society Limited (PAPCOSOL) is the novel alternative economic development scheme designed to create a more viable means of livelihood for ex-agitators with socio-economic development of their communities and the Niger Delta region in general as an intended consequence and this is considered the most practicable approach in ensuring the sustainable reintegration of PAP ex-agitators.
“It is owned and managed by PAP, with its headquarters domiciled in the Programme’s Office in Abuja. In addition, the cooperative already boasts of some presence in some states in the Niger Delta—which serve as branch offices to best reach the target beneficiaries.
“As conceptualised, PAPCOSOL will be closely supervised by the Office of the Interim Administrator of PAP—being its key administrative and strategic guide. The Advisory Board consists of top professionals drawn from various fields and industries and is being headed by HRM (Dr) Justice F. F. Tabai, CON, JSC (retired). Project consultants who will handle the technical deliverables and business development processes have been identified and engaged. Representatives of different phases of ex-agitators hold the base to the cooperative”.
The Cooperative is expected to work with beneficiaries of PAP to identify businesses that align with their skill areas or set-ups and turn such process into profitable ventures; provide technical and development support to beneficiaries to enable them own and manage business ventures; create employment opportunities to boost economic growth in the Niger Delta through identification of business opportunities in respective localities, building beneficiaries’ entrepreneurial capacity for sustaining of business operations, provision of market and industry opportunities, attraction of development and funding support partners, access to grants and credits, and enabling market offering in consumer and global markets.
Said Justice Tabai the Advisory Board Chair, in a remark: “The Presidential Amnesty Programme has been going for many years now. But within a short time of your coming, you have done this. The first and last duty of a responsible human being is service. Thank you”.
Earlier in an address, SA Special Duties, who was team lead in midwifing PAP Cooperative Society, Mr. Thomas Peretu, said the birth of PAPCOSOL signified the reality of Ndiomu’s vision and the beginning of a transformation of the lives of all ex-agitators.
Said Peretu: “We are here to celebrate this unfolding history because one man believed something can be done to better the lots of our people. That person is Major-General Barry Tariye Ndiomu. I call him the avatar of change; the chief servant of the people of Niger Delta region. But everyone gathered here in this small hall is part of history because, when the delegates begin to reap the fruits of this labour in the days ahead, you should be able to say: I was part of that history”.
Speaking also, His Royal Highness Henry Binidodogha, alias Egbema 1, a leader of Phase One, said ex-agitators had come a long way from the very beginning of Amnesty Programme.
Stated he: “Most of us have been worried over how we can survive with our families. So, for the Interim Administrator of Amnesty Programme to come up with this cooperative initiative, we all support it so that we will be able to achieve our goals in the Niger Delta”.
He promised to convince other ex-agitators to support Ndiomu.
Similarly, ex-agitator and chairman of PAP Strategic Communication Committee (STRATCOM), Mr. Nature Dumale Kieghe, said he was convinced that the creation of a cooperative society for ex-agitators would change the old narrative in the Niger Delta and that the “N65,000 stipend was not sustainable.
Noted he: “It is better for us to have something that can sustain us. We are also confident that the board that is going to manage this cooperative scheme is made up of people who have integrity and probity”.
In their separate remarks, Hon. Enekiyo Felix Bonny Ayah, a serving and re-elected legislator of Bayelsa State House of Assembly representing Southern Ijaw Constituency 1, called on the incoming government to retain Ndiomu for him to continue his good work at the PAP.
Said Ayah: “This is what we have been saying. That someone with a heart for development should be in charge of this Programme”.
Mr. Richard Akinaka also lauded Ndiomu for the cooperative initiative.
Other ex-agitators at the launching included, Tonye Gabriel Bobo, Ellington Bakumor, Fayeofori Ngiangia, Adokiye Sami, Selepere Kalabiri, Chief Falaki, and Ifiemi Ebite, all leaders of ex-agitators.