Abuja â€” Following the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta region and the successes recorded so far in the on-going rehabilitation and the reintegration of former Niger Delta militants, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe said that President Goodluck Jonathan has moved to finally consolidate peace in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
He also disclosed that 6,166 former Niger Delta militants who, though accepted the Federal Government’s offer of amnesty in 2009, submitted their arms after the amnesty grace period deadline of October 4th 2009, would now be included in the post-amnesty package following the approval of President Jonathan.
According to Alaibe, President Jonathan is projecting that by the last quarter of 2011, properly skilled ex-militants would be playing crucial roles in the new economy of the Niger Delta region.
In a statement to THISDAY, Alaibe said President Jonathan “reckons that planned mega projects in the Niger Delta such as the new regional railway project, the LNG projects, new refinery projects, new town projects, environmental remediation projects and the crucial east-west road projects as well as other coastal roads in the zone will offer gainful employment opportunities to the thousands of ex-militants who are currently acquiring skills in training/vocational centres across the country and abroad.”
He said in pursuant to the promise made by the Federal Government in the Amnesty Proclamation to aid the reintegration of repentant militants into civil society, “the Amnesty Office under the guidance of President Goodluck Jonathan, has thus far secured and retained the services and expertise of a total of 114 vocational/skills acquisition centers within the country and abroad (81 local and 33 offshore) as training partners.”
According to him, between August 25th and November 23rd, 2010 a total number of 7,286 transformed ex-militants were allocated to training centers within Nigeria and abroad while 4,424 of the stated total figure were allocated to training centers locally while 2,618 were allocated centers offshore.
“President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s plans for the transformed ex-militants are very clear and unambiguous: he wants them properly skilled so that they can constitute the bulwark or the backbone of the new economy of the Niger Delta region. As you are aware, the Federal Government under President Jonathan has approved mega projects in the Niger in the Niger Delta.
“Just as enshrined in the Niger Delta Regional master plan, we have new town projects, new roads, particularly the east-west by-pass; the railway project and the refinery project that was approved not too long ago and so on. President Jonathan has given us a clear mandate to prepare these youths to play key roles in the actualization of these projects. We have accepted the challenge and we are working practically round the clock to actualize this vision of Mr. President,” Alaibe said.
He said that all ex-militants who have successfully passed through the nonviolence transformational training in the Amnesty Camp in Obubra will be posted to skills/vocational training centers either within the country or abroad.
“All the 20,192 registered ex-militants will pass through the nonviolence transformational training. It is compulsory. Once they pass through Obubra Camp, we will place them in skills acquisition center based on the preferred choice of vocation,” Alaibe disclosed.
The placements of the trainees in vocational institutions, Alaibe said, is being done based on their expressed interests in areas such as pipeline welding, underwater welding, ocean diving, crane operations, oil drilling, automobile technology, fish farming and entrepreneurship – grocery, building materials and business centers operations. The duration of the vocational training for each of the trainees is expected to span between six months and two years.
Speaking on the approval by President Jonathan for the inclusion of 1,166 ex-militants in the amnesty programme, Alaibe said “You will recall that this set of ex-militants have been carrying out protest marches across the country, agitating to be included in the process. You recall that when they came to Abuja to protest we told them that their matter was being processed. Finally, in conjunction with the Armed Forces and other security agencies, we have done the requisite screening and documentation and representation was made to Mr. President and he has approved that they be included in the post amnesty package,” Alaibe told newsmen yesterday.
“The President, being a considerable and peaceful leader has done the right thing by listening to pleas from all quarters for the inclusion of these set of repentant militants in the post-amnesty programme,” the Special Adviser said. He was however quick to clarify that the newly included ex-militants accepted the offer of amnesty in 2009 but did not submit their arms and ammunition on or before October 4th 2009 hence were initially excluded from the post-amnesty programme.
It would be recalled that between August 6th and October 4th, 2009, all known militant groups in the Niger Delta had been successfully disarmed. The exercise in Nigeria is arguably the most successful disarmament carried out in the history of DDR in Africa. A total of 20, 192 ex-militants were duly registered after the completion of the disarmament exercise. Mr. Alaibe believes that the ex-militants will reciprocate this kind gesture of President Jonathan by helping to keep the peace in not just the Niger Delta but in any part of the country they might find themselves.