The Right Man For The Right Job In The Niger Delta – Buhari Got It Right
This morning, I awoke to read about the appointment of retired Col. Milland Dixon Dikio as the new Amnesty Program Coordinator. I was optimistic, but cautiously so and called a few friends to make sure it was the same Dikio that went to Baptist High School, Port Harcourt with me in the post-Civil War days. Yes, they all confirmed that it was indeed the same Dikio. My cautious optimism turned to a radiant joy that brought great pride for me as Niger Delta person and a Nigerian – Buhari got this one perfectly right!
I sat down with my morning tea and pondered a series of questions:, Buhari definitely found the right man for this job. How did Buhari manage to find this square peg to place in a square hole? Isn’t the Niger delta lucky for Buhari to appoint an Ijaw Man of Dikio’s calibre to this important Niger Delta post? An Ijaw Man with enormous capacity and credentials – Dikio’s appointment is definitely not based on any form of political correctness. This man has capacity and depth. How could this happen, I scratched my head in delighted wonderment. How did he find out about this Colonel who shuns publicity and is completely publicly apolitical, even when he served in the military?
The fact that this process of choosing the best man for the job happened back-to-back following Dr. Adesina’s recent re-election as the head of African Development Bank is reason for cautious optimism for the future of the Niger Delta and Nigeria. Perhaps the days of lobbyists pushing political correctness and political cronyism in Nigeria are beginning to fade – recent signs indicate there may be hope for that once silly pipedream. Dr. Adesina’s case is one heck of an example of the benefits of putting a round peg in a round hole. First, when he was investigated he came out as clean as a whistle. A corrupt person would certainly have been found wanting given the intensity of the scrutiny and investigation mounted and supported by the almighty United States of America. Yet Dr. Adesina came through that process to serve Nigeria as the Right Man for the Right Job.
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Now, on the heels of that rare personnel appointment triumph, this recent appointment of retired Col. Dikio by President Buhari is stunning and a reason for genuine joy. The appointment of Dikio has followed the pattern of Adesina’s re-election in that Colonel Dikio is certainly the most qualified person any head of state could appoint to a position as sensitive and potentially controversial as that of handling matters pertaining to amnesty in the Niger Delta.
As an Ijaw man from Engenni, Col Dikio is a disciplinarian, firm, but fair. He is a straight shooter, a no nonsense man, a very brilliant Officer and even more so a true Gentleman that has always done himself, his family, his position, and his country proud. He is a man of substantial intellect and reason. He is a stickler for adherence to process and procedure, but never at the expense of doing the right thing that achieves the most common good for all. In Dikio, you have the Best Man for the Job.
As I stated earlier, Col Dikio is from a small market community called Mbiama in Engenni. The Engenni people are considered the earliest settlers in the Niger Delta Region and many scholars consider them to be among the first peoples to settle in what is now Nigeria. The Engenni people are Ijaw people that live in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. They are considered to be Edoid based on linguistic grounds. They are actually Ijoid (they are of Ijaw root), and their oral history connects them with their Ijaw relatives. They primarily live in the Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria. Although they are Ijaw, the Engenni speak an Edoid language. This is due to the influence of the old Benin kingdom. The penetration of the Niger Delta by Edoid groups extends to the Epie-Atissa and Engenni of the central and Eastern Niger Delta. The Epie people, along with the Ogbia people and other groups of the central and eastern Niger Delta are also historically united with Ijaw. The other groups of the central and eastern Niger Delta that are also said to be historically Ijaw, include the Engenni. The Engenni also have close relations with neighbouring Ijaw tribes such as the Zarama and Epie-Atissa.
Engenni as an area and the Ijaw as a people are collectively a people whose contributions to the wealth of the Nation are without peer. Mbiama, Col. Dikio’s hometown, is clearly endowed by nature with plentiful natural resources, specifically in the form of crude oil. Proof can be found in the number of oil fields within a thirty (30) mile radius of Mbiama:
*BISENI* has 30 oil wells. SHELL®️ operates eleven (11) of these oil wells and calls its oil field “ADIBAWA NORTH/EAST OIL FIELD”. NIGERIAN AGIP OIL COMPANY (NAOC) operates fifteen (15) oil wells and calls its oil field “IDU/BISENI SAMABRI OIL FIELD”. The access road to Biseni was constructed by SHELL®️ while the access roads to the oil wells were constructed by the individual companies that operate the respective oil wells.
*EDAGBERI/BETTER LAND* has forty (40 ) active oil wells and seven (7) dormant wells. These oil wells are operated by SHELL®️ and the oil field is known as “ADIBAWA OIL FIELD”. The access road was constructed by SHELL®️.
*OSHIE COMMUNITY has two (2) oil wells operated by NAOC and its field is known as “OSHIE OIL FIELD”. The access road was constructed by NAOC.
*AKINIMA COMMUNITY* has seven (7) oil wells and all are presently active and operated by NAOC. The field is also part of the “OSHIE OIL FIELD”. The access roads are constructed by NAOC.
*ORUAMA (AKIEONISO)* has four (4) active oil wells operated by NAOC and two (2) oil wells owned by SHELL®️ that await drilling. The four (4) oil wells operated by NAOC are also part of the “OSHIE OIL FIELD”.
Col. Dikio is clearly the Right Man for The Right Job – he is an Ijaw man from the right Niger Delta community, Engenni. Moreover, he has the proper intellect, demeanor, skill set and temperament to head the Niger Delta Amnesty Program. Inarguably, Col. Dikio is right for this task – ethnically, geographically, and personally.
These observations, and indeed my truly heartfelt delight at Dikio’s appointment are based upon my knowledge of him as a young man growing up together in the Niger Delta. We both attended Baptist High School in Port Harcourt immediately after the war ended that January 15th. I graduated in 1972 while he graduated in 1975. After school, we lived together in a certain boy’s quarter as he was planning to attend the Nigerian Defence Academy while I was preparing to continue my studies in America. He went to Kaduna and a year later I went to Superior, Wisconsin USA. When I visited home from the U.S. for the first time in 1982, I stayed with my old friend Dikio at Ikeja Military Cantonment in the home of his buddy, Lt. Merriman-Johnson. During several subsequent visits to Nigeria I spent time with Col Dikio, including a visit to see him when he was serving in Maiduguri. Dikio chose the path of service to Nigeria in the military and I chose the path of service to the law. He worked to make Nigeria better, whilst never forgetting his Ijaw and Niger delta roots.
I know this man very well and I can authoritatively say that Buhari got his appointment right. I have often had the pride of being Col Dikio’s friend and have spent significant amounts of time with him both personally and professionally – certainly enough time to take the true measure of the quality of the man. And, yes, I know Col. Dikio enough to write about him to express my thoughts and genuine happiness at the good fortune of Nigeria to have selected him for this important service to his fellow Ijaw and all peoples of the Niger Delta. Dare we Nigerians hope that this is a new trend in Nigeria – the Right Man for the Right Job? Or is this just a case of a blind dove sometimes finding a pea? For now, I choose to see the appointment of Col. Milland Dixon Dikio as a new sunrise over the Niger Delta and a portent of better days for my beloved homeland. All Nigerians can hope this is the case.
All Engenni people, all people of Ijaw Nation, and the entire people of the Niger Delta should congratulate Col. Milland Dixon Dikio and express their profound thanks to Buhari for finding and appointing the Right Man for the Right Job of piloting the affairs of the Niger Delta Amnesty Program.
Dr. Lloyd F. UKWU, writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.