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Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta/Coordinator of Presidential Amnesty Programmes, Professor Charles Dokubo, has appealed to the multinationals, agencies and oil companies to assist in the reintegration project of the amnesty programmes so that the ex-combatants would be fully empowered and engaged in gainful endeavours.
He said militancy in the Niger Delta region is not purely a Nigerian affair because it affects international oil companies directly, stating that without the Presidential Amnesty Programmes (PAP), oil companies would have relocated out of the country and the Nigerian economy would have collapsed.
The presidential adviser, who stated this while interacting with journalists in Abuja yesterday, said amnesty was declared to stabilise security conditions in the Niger Delta and to contribute to the development of the Niger Delta.
‘’It was meant to help militants drop their weapons and return to civilian life. With the declaration of amnesty, the situation has changed over time. Without the Presidential Amnesty Programmes (PAP), oil companies would have relocated out of the country and the Nigerian economy would have collapsed.
‘’The Presidential Amnesty Programme started when oil prices had gone down from above two million barrels a day to less than 700, 000. Nigeria’s economy was adversely affected since we depend on oil production for economic sustenance. The Presidential Amnesty Programme was therefore an avenue to create peace in the Niger Delta for oil companies to operate for the good of the Nigerian economy.’’ he added.
The presidential adviser stated that in the last one year, the massive training of the ex-combatants had commenced, saying the PAP is now faced with the rehabilitation and re-integration aspect of the arrangement.
Emphasising that re-integration is a long-term process, Prof. Dokubo explained that the programme had as its goal of ensuring permanent disarmament and sustainable peace, which includes assisting the ex-combatant during the difficult transition to civilian life.
According to him, “Re-integration includes provision of jobs for the ex-combatants, engaging them in skills acquisition and rehabilitation programmes.
“Re-integration addresses the issue of returning the ex-combatants to normal civil life and creating an atmosphere that will not send them back to militancy. It is a very sensitive approach to the amnesty cycle.
‘’We are still appealing to the international organisations, agencies and oil companies to assist in the reintegration project so that the ex-combatants will be fully empowered and engaged in gainful endeavours. Militancy in the Niger Delta is not purely a Nigerian affair because it affects international oil companies directly.’’
He said the PAP has done well in skills and vocational training, which involves the development of a new skill usually gained through training or experience and a highly useful education as its occupational content such that the trainee acquires skills.attitudes, interest and knowledge to perform socially and economically and scientifically.
‘’Vocational skill is all embracing since it prepares its recipient for a living. In that light, it can be argued that entrepreneurship would hardly yield the desired result unless it is accompanied with skills acquisition/knowledge component.
“If that is the case, a vocational skill therefore becomes indispensable for economic growth and development. That is why vocational/skill acquisition is a priority for us under the PAP,’’ he added.
He revealed that a total of 18,602 persons had received vocational training in specialised courses with the breakdown which include agriculture, 2,265; automobile mechanics, 1,171; welding/fabrication 4,686; entrepreneurship, 2,074; carpentry, plumbing and pipe fitting, 402; electrical installation/maintenance, 714; Information and Communications Technology (ICT) 401; crane/heavy duty operations, 1,536; health safety and environment (HSE), 249; music/fashion/entertainment/catering, 1688; others, 2,185.
Others include aviation, 187, and boat building, 152. Out of the 3,243 in training, 3,006 are receiving education; 2,799 in universities in Nigeria, and 207 are students in universities and colleges abroad.
At the moment, Dokubo added that 237 are receiving specialised vocational training; 217 in vocational/skills acquisition in Nigeria and 20 undergoing specialised training in aviation at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT).
According to him, this shows that the training component of the reintegration programme has had modest impact on human capacity development in the Niger Delta.
The Presidential Adviser said it is against the spirit of re-integration when the ex-combatants, after the disarmament and demobilisation, the training are returned to the same environment as well as the lifestyle that gave rise to militancy.
He explained that if something must change about their behaviour and way of life, then something must change about their environment and lifestyle, saying: “This is a global practice everywhere.’’