The name Kingsley Kuku is one which resonates courage and communal passion. Fully known as Dr. Kingsley Valentine Kuku, the Niger Delta region will continue to make the Arogbo Ijaw born environmentalist and humanist a reference point in Nigeria’s history.
His commitment to his people is one which has earned him a place among his people and also in their hearts.
He is a lover of fairness, equality and justice. He has never hidden his penchant for good governance and quality service delivery. Kuku is undoubtedly a man of the people and he is readily prepared to go the extra mile in pursuit of justice and just cause.
It would be recalled that when he was first appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan as Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, his first action was the immediate disarmament and demobilization of 30,000 ex-agitators. It was a move that was swiftly followed up with the aggressive foundational training of the former combatants.
Many of the trained agitators have since graduated and turned out as responsible citizens that now give back to their various societies. A good number of the ex-agitators were enlisted in flight training schools at Oxford, England and Lufthansa, Germany. Some also equally undertook helicopter training in Italy. It worthy of note that nearly all the students that were enrolled for flight training are now qualified pilots.
Also it was to the credit of Kingsley Kuku under his stewardship in his capacity as the Amnesty Programme Chairman that well over 4000 under his stewardship and of the ex-agitators were enrolled in 72 universities in United Kingdom. Record also has it that more than 1000 of the repentant agitators were registered in various universities across the United States of America. Another appreciable number of the ex-agitators were given academic lifelines in leading Malaysian and Ghanaian universities.
He has cemented himself an active political force in Ondo State and the Niger Delta, his influence as a political gladiator spans across both the young and old. His admirable qualities is one which keeps endearing many to him and his contributions to issues of national discourse is one which keeps giving him many accolades.
Meanwhile, the lasting peace that was restored to the Niger Delta through the Presidential Amnesty Programme headed by Kingsley Kuku also helped a great deal to achieve significant increase in the daily oil output of the nation. This in the real sense translated into billions of dollars in oil revenue for Nigerian Federal Government.
The Arogbo-Ijaw born environmentalist has over the years combined his intellectual powers and experience with that of other egg heads in the country to midwife ideas that have helped to engender lasting peace, nurture the nation’s economy and enhance development in the Niger Delta region of the country. Vital interventionist strategies have also been birthed which include the Niger Delta Development Commission, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Ministry of Niger Delta.
Tracing back his history, He was a student leader while in the university and was once the National Mobilization Officer of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). Despite his young age at the time, he was quite active in the struggle to return the nation to full democratic governance. It is worthy of note that the experience gathered by Kuku in the cause students unionism proved useful in moulding him for leadership positions in the nation. The same experience also helped in conditioning his mind to stay resolute in his fights against injustice and maladministration within the socio-political space of Nigeria.
Kuku was a pioneer member of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), and the second spokesman of the Council. He was signatory to the historical Kaiama Declaration and later contested and won election as a member of the Ondo State House of Assembly. Kuku was made the Chairman of the House Committee on Information. He had also served at various times as Special Assistant and Head of Conflict Management Unit at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Kuku has since remained a vocal voice and an integral stakeholder who has consistently champion the need for development and restoration of lasting peace to the oil-rich Niger-Delta region of Nigeria.
Kingsley Kuku has consistently over the years proven himself as someone with insatiable hunger for knowledge. Since the time he left office as the Chairman of Presidential Amnesty Programme in 2015 till now, he has armed himself with Graduate Certificate In Public Leadership from the prestigious Kennedy School Of Government, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He is on the final lap of his Juris Master Degree at the Emory School Of Law, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, concentrating in International Human Rights Law.
Kuku had also been a guest speaker at the internationally renowned institute for International Affairs, Chatham House, London where he delivered a paper titled, Amnesty in the Niger-Delta: Sustaining Peace and Surmounting Challenges. Hon. Kingsley Kuku was also a guest speaker at the Global Institute for International Affairs, Wilson Centre USA where he spoke on “A Briefing on the Niger Delta: Where Things Stand”. The intellectual forum afforded him the opportunity to narrate his struggles and that of his team at the Amnesty Office and efforts made to reverse the tide of calamity in the Niger-Delta.
It is however surprising that few months after his exit from office, after working tirelessly to ensure the growth of his people and Nigeria at large, he was hunted and charged with various corruption charges.
Kuku, for instance, has been in the eye of the storm for more than six years for charges that are not clear yet, pushing him to the centre of the national stage for the wrong reasons despite his outstanding contributions to stabilising the Niger Delta region.
It’s been six years, and the difference between those they haunt for non-existing corruption charges and the ‘righteous’ in power has been startling.The motivation behind the trump up charges against Kuku and his team are clear to all discerning minds. Firstly, it is one of those clannish and religious agendas launched to discredit many reputable southern figures. In the last six years, we have seen how it was used to embarrass the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen and recently with Justice Mary Odili. On the other hand, it is also a ploy to silence him as a major opposition figure who’s believed to be a threat to the ruling party’s aggressive ‘take-it-all’ politics even in the face of widespread disdain for the party.
We’ve read in several media reports how Kuku has said that he’d honour the government agencies’ invitation at the right time.
As with so many other political witchhunts before it, the truth with the Kuku haunting expedition is that it will also fail because of its lack of tangible evidence to pursue the trump up charges. But what has bugged the discerning public is that for how long will the country continue to haunt its reputable talents over personal hatred and to promote ethnic and religious agendas that have continued to substitute competence for quackery.
It’s rather saddening and discouraging to see a man whose life has been about his people, whose energy has been much invested in ensuring their overall advancement been witch-hunt,Nigeria will keep losing its best materials if this unfortunate trend is not addressed.We must also ask why is it that majority of the people persecuted are Christians.
Nonetheless we are with the hope that the winds of time will eventually unravel all hidden truth and nothing else but justice shall prevail
* Adeniyi lives in Abuja