From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd) has challenged the people of the Niger Delta to take advantage of the maritime opportunities in the region to grow and nurture successful business ventures.
He expressed optimism that if stakeholders looked inwards and tap the unique natural endowments in the Niger Delta, the region in no distant time would produce a new set of wealthy entrepreneurs.
Dikio gave the charge in Calabar, Cross River State at the weekend, when he unveiled the first set of ferries owned by Abitto Global Services Limited, an indigenous firm belonging to an ex-agitator, Richard Akinaka.
The amnesty boss in a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Nneotabase Egbe, regretted that people often focused on the risk factors, and discouraged themselves from starting and in the process allow lofty ideas to die.
Dikio said: “One of the first instructions God gave is ‘go and multiply, dominate’. Are you dominating this riverine environment? Why will you be thinking about other parts when the one God gave you, you have not dominated it? How many roads can you build?
“Our people live in creeks unconnected by road. But, God has given us roads, the rivers are our roads and for those who don’t know, many great powers are maritime powers.
“The waterways can carry any load, any load at all, it can carry it.The waterways of the Niger Delta is full of money but people don’t know. Stop making excuses and just
take the initiative.
“People live where there is snow all year and they adapt to it, they adapt to that environment. And that is what this is all about, adapt to your environment, dominate the environment, the water environment.”
While congratulating Akinaka for the bold step in floating the ferry business, Dikio urged him to expand it to other riverine parts of the country and also go public by allowing people to buy shares and be part of the business.
Dikio again called on people of the region to pull their resources together, form partnerships and cooperatives to pursue and actualize their business dreams.
Addressing Akinaka, he said: “Richard, I want to congratulate you for your boldness, and your antecedents are not lost. You are a bold man. On this occasion, I want to assure you that as we hear of Elon Musk, people will hear of you.
“This transport company should not remain only in the Niger Delta, Lagos is 75 percent water. I will do everything within my power, to promote this initiative. Already, I have started. I urge you to go corporate, so that you can spread generational wealth.”
Earlier, Akinaka said his foray into business was borne out of the need to find solutions to problems, saying he understood the basic challenges of the people.
He appreciated Dikio for his support and inspiration to the ex-agitators’ community in the region and appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm him as substantive PAP boss.
He said: “Today, I want to thank you for making out time to come, I ask myself who am I that you will so honour. For me, growing up, I told myself I don’t want to work for the government and I don’t want to work for anybody.
“That is why you see me, my activities in government are just a part-time job. That is why we call ourselves stakeholders. We are stakeholders, we assist, and we interface between the government and our brothers.
“For me, business is all about solving problems. Looking at the distance, when you travel from Uyo to Calabar, the bad road and terrible traffic I began to think how to ease the sufferings of people.
“I travel that road every week and I know how it is. So, while trying to build military boats, I decided to design a fery and that is what we are seeing there today.
“We did this design, we have four concepts of what we have designed and the military version. We have not begun what we did and we have supplied about eighteen pieces of it to NNS Pathfinder through the government of Rivers State. Now this is the first one, this is a 26 carrier, that’s why you see the name AWLP26. We have a 20 carrier too which is ready.
“We are here to meet the gap of marine transportation. Our operation will definitely start from here, we will operate from here straight to Ibom Golf Resort in Akwa Ibom and other areas.”