20,000 Ex-Militants Go to School!

The Federal Government had good intentions for granting Niger Delta militants amnesty. Thankfully, the move has effectively stopped the raging restiveness in the region. It also helped, considerably, in the socio-economic development of the area and involved the ex-militants in gainful employment.
Retrospectively, whenever the militants sneezed, the rest of the country caught cold. Their engagement in the kidnapping of expatriate oil workers, destruction of oil pipelines, illegal bunkering, establishment of illegal refineries and other forms of lawlessness seriously affected production of crude and the revenue the country realized from it.
Today, it is no news that the amnesty programme largely assisted in disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and integration of militants. Under the programme, thousands of youths have enrolled for formal education while many others have undergone vocational training within and outside the country.
The emergence of Hon. Kingsley Kuku has brought milestones to the programme. As the Chairman of Presidential Amnesty Programme, Kuku oversaw the disarmament and demobilization of 30,000 ex-agitators in the oil producing communities. This harbinger of peace is currently superintending the skilling and reintegration of these youths into civil society. Kuku’s mandate in this regard is three in one: Disarmament; Demobilization and Reintegration.
The reintegration mandate is nearly completed. The demobilization, carried out in Obubura, Cross River State, entailed biometric documentation, wellness check, non-violence transformational training series of counselling and career classification for the ex-agitators. This phase was concluded in December 2011.
One of Kuku’s cherished principles is that what makes the difference between the rich and the poor nations of the world is the quality of the people not just the resources buried under the ground or water because it is the people that will explore the resources. No wonder, he is vigorously pursuing the third mandate of reintegration through education – formal, informal and acquisition of skills. The Amnesty Office under him has placed over 20,000 demobilized ex-agitators in formal education or skill acquisition centres within and outside the country.
The Amnesty Programme has opened a fresh page in reversing the resource curse. In 2008 alone, it was estimated that Nigeria lost over 3 trillion Naira as a result of militancy in the Niger Delta. This ugly situation has been turned around. This resulted in increase in oil production and a corresponding increase in foreign exchange earnings. With peace restored in the region, oil and associated companies reopened shut oil wells. The result is that Nigeria’s oil production increased from 800,000 barrels per day to 2.8 mbpd.
Apart from that, it brought about sustainable peace in the Niger Delta, making the ex-militants to embrace peace. With cessation of hostilities, government assured the international community of Nigeria;s ability to fill its OPEC quota while it should be trusted by major consumer nations to meet its contractual obligations. With renewed confidence in the international oil market, Nigeria started to exercise enormous influence in OPEC and other sub-regional bodies. The increase in Nigeria’s quota of oil production is a result of reduced incidence of kidnapping, which provides the right environment for the repairs of oil and gas infrastructures damaged during the period of militancy. It has also provided ample opportunity for contractors handling developmental projects to fast-track sustainable development in the Niger Delta.
Kuku was involved in the Niger Delta struggle hence he knows the needs of youths in the region. An opinion poll conducted in three states, Ondo, Rivers and Delta, by some concerned Niger Deltans showed that, among all the development agencies that have operated in the region, the Amnesty Programme has created more impact on the lives of the ordinary masses especially youths.
Through the Amnesty Programme, vigorous human capacity building programmes were mounted for the production of intermediate manpower in under-water (Algon welding), piloting, seafaring and marine engineering. Most of the skills and vocations include auto mechanics, boat building, safety programmes and ICT. Impressively, the Amnesty Programme has sponsored Niger Delta youths interested in higher education. The programme has fully paid the fees of ND students studying in the UK, Ukraine, Russia, South Africa and the United States. This gesture is to complement the scholarship programmes initiated by the various states.