Presidential Amnesty Office: Buhari’s Ministers Battle For Cronies

  • Amaechi Wants Dokubo Retained
  • Sylva Schemes For Tompolo’s Man

Less than one month after their inauguration as members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), two of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Ministers, Rotimi Amaechi (Transport) and Timipre Sylva (State, Petroleum) are in a supremacy battle.

The two ministers, both former governors from the oil rich Niger Delta region, are scheming to install their cronies as the head of the Presidential Amnesty Office.

As this development unfolded, it remained unclear if President Buhari would relieve the current occupier of the office, Professor Charles Dokubo, who was appointed in March last year.

Sunday Independent gathered from credible sources that while Amaechi had been pleading for the retention of Dokubo, Sylva was said to have reached an agreement with the ex-warlord and leader of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Chief Government Ekpomupolo, otherwise known as Tompolo, to pave way for one Chief Daniel Otuaro.

Daniel Otuaro is the younger brother of Kingsley Otuaro, the Deputy Governor of Delta State and an ally of Tompolo.

Consequently, both Amaechi and Sylva had deployed pseudo campaign groups to outwit one another.

A presidential source familiar with the imbroglio told Sunday Independent that while Sylva had the support of the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, in the push for Tompolo’s nominee, Amaechi, whose relationship with Kyari appeared frosty, was being backed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

Kyari’s preference for Sylva’s choice (Otuaro) notwithstanding being his main albatross, according to our source, as he had been the strong link with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“For now, the situation appears dicey. No one can say exactly where the pendulum will swing. We do not know whether the current man will go or not. But, from all indications, there is a supremacy battle between Amaechi and Sylva as they both want the slot for their preferred persons.

“As for Amaechi, he is pushing for the retention of Dokubo, but he does not have the support of the Chief of Staff, who is not a friend to the man (Amaechi), he is now relying on the SGF to do his job for him.

“Ordinarily, Sylva would not have had a problem, but the man he is pushing for is a known and strong PDP, and Tompolo man from the Ijaw area of Delta. That I think is a major challenge for him to clear,” said our source.

The source added that Amaechi was still pained that he was ignored in the build up to the compilation of the list of the Governing Board and management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Meanwhile, the Egbema Peace and Security Group (EPSG), has called on President Buhari to reject what it called an ill-motivated statement against Otuaro’s choice as the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

This is coming against the backdrop of last Friday’s petition by a pressure group, Niger Delta Force (NDF), calling on the President not to go ahead with the appointment of Otuaro, Delta State’s Deputy Governor’s brother and a personal assistant to Tompolo.

The group said: “Mr. President, it has become imperative to draw your attention to the untoward activities by some officials in your government whose selfish interests were undermining your integrity and fight against corruption. And we urge you to be wary of Otuaro.”

However, in a statement signed by EPSG, Coordinator, Mr. Kari Ebipade, it stated that, “While it is utterly unnecessary to respond to such baseless statements actuated by malice we make bold to state that Otuaro is and remains the best hand needed to give the office the required managerial expertise in furtherance of the federal government’s peace and developmental plans for the volatile Niger Delta region.

“The only way to change the storyline of leadership malaise is by appointing an experienced hand who is abreast with the region, and enjoys the collaborative relationship with the major stakeholders of the region.

“It is on this note that we restate our unmitigated resolve to join the call for Otuaro to be considered for the job. Otuaro who has lived all his life in the Niger Delta possesses the skill, intelligence and proficiency needed to revamp the programme towards the achievement of the ideology upon which the program was initiated.

“Otuaro’s choice has no match or parallel in every facet in terms of general acceptability, intelligence, mastery of the Niger Delta region, academic qualification, amongst others. He is a major character that the Federal Government, stakeholders and the entire Niger Delta region urgently needs to steer the leadership of the program to its desired destination.

“We therefore appeal to the Federal Government to reject the ill-motivated statement against Otuaro sponsored by faceless and slanderous elements that derive pleasure in the under-development of the Niger Delta region.

“We urge the Federal Government never to give these traducers any opportunity to interfere with the current state of peace in the region. Their denigrating smears against Otuaro are borne out of fear that with his emergence as the amnesty boss, there will be no leeway from which they could attempt to sabotage peace in the region,” the statement added.

The Presidential Amnesty Office recently denied a report alleging the involvement of the President’s wife, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, in the sacking of staff members of the office.

Mr. Murphy Ganagana, the Special Assistant (Media) to the Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, in a statement in Abuja, described the report as a “fairy tale.’’

An online platform had alleged that Mrs. Buhari gave the coordinator of PAP a directive to sack the affected workers for allegedly leaking documents of an alleged contract scam.

Ganagana said the report further alleged that Dokubo had told some unnamed senior officials of the Amnesty Programme that he got a directive from Aisha to sack some staff members.

He noted that the Office of the President’s wife does not interfere in the affairs of PAP and has, at no time, requested or directed Prof. Dokubo to sack any staff member of the Amnesty Office.

Ganagana said that contrary to the report, no official of PAP was sacked for any reason whatsoever, and there was no contract scam at the Amnesty Office.

“The report is standing truth on its head; its claim that Prof. Dokubo was tongue-lashed by senior officials of the Presidency who queried him over leaked deals is a wicked lie.

“Prof. Dokubo was neither invited nor queried by the Presidency over leaked deals or documents and he did not get any directive to sack any staff member of the Amnesty Office.

“The latest missile fired at Prof. Dokubo and the Amnesty Programme is in reaction to a recent failed attempt which crumbled and missed its target following a lucid presentation of facts on the alleged N3.2bn contract scam by the Amnesty Office to members of the public.

“We wish to reiterate that there is no contract scam in the Amnesty Programme, just as no staff (member) has been sacked either on a directive by the First Lady or for any other reason whatsoever,” Ganagana added.

He, however, said it should be emphasised that as a public agency, officials of PAP engaged either as consultants or civil servants were subject to Public Service Rules 030302 to 030306 relating to disciplinary procedures for misconduct.

“To this end, six staff (members) of the Amnesty Office comprising four consultants and two civil servants were recently suspended from duty for breaching provisions of the Public Services Rules.

“They are expected to appear before a legally constituted panel in accordance with statutory procedure.”

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