26th September, 2011
With 20,192 ex-militants having gone through the rehabilitation and non-violence training under the Niger Delta Amnesty Progamme in Obubra, Cross River State, the first phase of the exercise has ended.
At the passing out parade for the batch 17 on Saturday, 23 September, President Goodluck Jonathan described the programme as a huge success. â€œFollowing the success achieved in the Amnesty proclamation, peace returned to the Niger Delta and the operating climate has become conducive and the Niger Delta Region an investor havenâ€.
President Jonathan who was represented by the Minister of State for Niger Delta, Hajia Ibrahim Zanab Kushi, said with the return of peace in the region, Nigeriaâ€™s crude oil production per day shot up from the â€œabysmally 800 barrels per day to 2.6 million barrels per dayâ€.
This increase in the countryâ€™s daily oil production, Dr Jonathan sai,d has significantly boosted the nationâ€™s income and this has intensified construction work on the â€œvery strategic East-West Road and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is currently working assiduously to tackle the infrastructural challenges in the Niger Delta region.â€
Using the opportunity of the event to reiterate the need for peace in the country, the president averred that insecurity in any part of the country affects sustainable development in every other part and stressed that the government is â€œdetermined and poised to stamp out insecurity in all parts of the country.â€ He added: when we live in peace as a great and united nation that we can feed our people, tackle unemployment and confront head on infrastructural challenges.â€
The President commended members of the Presidential Amnesty Committee for their effort in ensuring the success of the programme and assured those who have gone through the training that efforts are being made to ensure that all of them are placed in reintegration centres within and outside the country.
He, however, urged the ex-combatants to train in areas of need of their communities and respective states â€œRelated to this, you must also guard against training in areas that would create unemployment. It is my candid belief that many of these youths will in the coming months help to grow not just the economy of the Niger Delta but join in the development of the nation,â€ he concluded.
Mr Kingsley Kuku, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, who traced the origin of the Amnesty programme, said that at inception, the exercise was greeted with skepticism and criticism but today, a milestone has been achieved as the programmed has restored peace in the region.
He said the youths who embraced the programme and went through the non-violence training have been placed in skills and educational institutions which have not only changed their lives but also of others.
â€œTomorrow, 24 September, I will be in South Africa to witness the solo flight operation by ex-militants whom we sent on aviation training there,â€ Kuku said.
According to Kuku, the Amnesty programme has created lasting impact on the Niger Delta, saying rhetorically; â€œIf we say the programme has not succeeded, then letâ€™s return to the creeksâ€.
The trainees who passed out were awarded certificates and called upon to be patient while awaiting their placement in skill centres and educational institutions within and outside the country.
â€”Emma Una/ Calabar