Top officials of the Presidency have come under severe pressure as 14 indigenes of the Niger Delta region are pushing to replace the outgoing special adviser to the president on Amnesty Programme, Maj. Gen. Charles Ndiomu (rtd).
The one-year tenure of Ndiomu as interim administrator of the amnesty initiative ended on September 19, leading to intensive intrigues by indigenes of the oil-rich belt, especially those from Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states, to replace him.
Though Ndiomu remained in office over a month after the expiration of his tenure, LEADERSHIP learnt that he was being preserved by authorities in the Presidency pending when the processes to pick his successor would be completed.
Besides, findings by this paper further revealed that Ndiomu was being preserved in office while he awaited outstanding fund releases to enable him to clear all commitments to the repentant militants.
LEADERSHIP was told by impeccable sources in the presidency that 14 natives of the Niger Delta, principally drawn from the Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobo ethnic nationalities, had been profiled by the relevant security agencies as part of the processes leading to emergence of the new helmsman to coordinate the activities and wellbeing of the repentant warlords in the region.
One of our sources disclosed that the number had been pruned to three.
The names of the trio (withheld by LEADERSHIP), two of Ijaw stock and one of Urhobo ethnic nationality, have been submitted to the national security adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu and chief of staff to the president, Femi Gbajabiamila, for consideration by the Presidency.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is expected to pick one of the three who hail from Bayelsa and Delta States.
One of our reliable sources hinted this newspaper that though Ndiomu was interested in retaining his job, he was, however, persuaded not to seek reappointment by the Presidency.
The retired general was said to have been offered a fresh appointment in another agency by his backers in the Presidency.
Top on the list of those who have undergone integrity checks for the top job are former president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Dr. Chris Ekiyor; a chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State, Chief Michael Jonny, also a former commissioner in the state; Bosin Ebikeme, another APC bigwig, Chief Dan Ekpebide, activist and youth advocate; Dr. Dennis Otuaro, Mr. Moses Ogodo, Mr. Mode David Akoma; a former member of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Daniel Reyinieju, traditional prime minister of Tuomo kingdom in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta state, Chief Mike Loyibo and a renowned environmentalist, Chief Sheriff Mulade, among others.
LEADERSHIP learnt that all the applicants enjoyed the backing of the various militant and political leaders from within and outside the region.
Giving further insight into the intrigues surrounding the processes of the appointment, one of our sources said Delta State, which served as the hub of the amnesty initiative, might be rewarded in the latest appointment as it was yet to produce the leadership of the programme since its inception.
LEADERSHIP recalls that Bayelsa State has produced three administrators of the programme in the past namely Chief Timi Alaibe, Brig. Gen Paul Boroh and the incumbent, Ndiomu.
Similarly, Rivers State has produced two helmsmen of the programme, Col Millard Dixon Dikio (rtd) and Prof Charles Dokubo.
Also, Ondo State had its turn when Mr. Kingsley Kuku held sway.
One of the sources said, “The intrigues over the appointment of a successor to the interim administrator of the presidential amnesty programme have been very intensive. The interesting thing about the whole story is that the Itsekiri and Urhobo ethnic nationalities are also seeking and angling for one of them to be appointed to head the programme. This is a clear departure from the past when the position is regarded as an exclusive preservation of the Ijaw.
“A former governor of the region, touted as a close ally of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is the one rooting for the choice of an Urhobo to take over in the amnesty programme. The ex-governor is canvassing that the programme cannot be synonymous with the Ijaw.”
Consequently, another of our sources said Gbajabiamila and the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, are being pressured for the position by the three surviving applicants and those who were dropped midway during the security screening.
“They are lobbying the Presidency, especially the NSA and CoS to secure the job. The incumbent administrator is expected to vacate the seat as soon as the process is completed and he is able to secure the outstanding five months allocation to his office to clear the outstanding commitments to the ex-agitators,” the source who also craved anonymity added.
Ndiomu’s media aide, Moses Adakaboro, however, said his boss was still in charge and control of the programme.
Adakaboro, in a telephone interview, said the tenure of Ndiomu “subsists”, adding that there was a letter in possession of his boss to that effect.
“It’s the prerogative of the presidency, which appointed him, to know when his tenure comes to an end and the Presidency has not asked him to vacate office,” he said.