Presidential amnesty programme trains over 20, 000 ex-combatants in Niger Delta

Niger Delta militants
Niger Delta militants

The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) says it had adopted a new strategy to sustain the stability and security in the Niger Delta region.

The Special Adviser to the President and the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Charles Dokubo, said in Abuja on Thursday the new strategy combines training of ex-combatants with their job placements on graduation.

The Coordinator spoke on the activities of the program since he assumed office in March 2018.

He said the senior members of the ex-combatants group who have graduated from the training have been encouraged to deploy their skills to establish industries and other business to create employment for others.

“The ex-combatants who acquired trainings in different fields have now established industries that are employing other people. If all those who have been trained under the amnesty programme could go back to their states to establish industries, the country would be talking less of conflicts and crisis in the Niger Delta region,” Mr Dobubo said.

He acknowledged the real impact of the president amnesty programme with improved stability in the Niger Delta region. He highlighted that it allowed daily oil production grow from less than 700,000 barrels, since he came to office, to the current level of close to two million barrels per day.

According to him, the current phase of PAP is focusing on the rehabilitation of the people and bringing them and the impacted communities back to a state they can be useful to themselves.

The rehabilitation phase involved the acquisition of training skills through medium, lower and educational skills to give the people the certification jobs placement.

He said the new concept on impacted communities was developed not only to deal with the ex-militants that were disarmed and demobilized, but also the communities affected by the conflict in the region.

“The Niger Delta people have felt marginalised for a very long time. The PAP was not only to help sustain peace and security in the region, but also to help boost the human development index, by helping them acquire skills that would enable them get jobs.

“It was a two-pronged objectives – provide human security (where the human beings become the reference point), while carrying out development of the region, in terms of taking care of the economic and healthy well-being of the people and environment,” he said.

To achieve this, he said people had to be trained to acquire the knowledge of the issues about the environment and the crisis, in a manner that will convince them that carrying guns was not the only solution to their problems.

Focus now on empowerment and job placement

At the inception of the programme, which focused on disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation, Mr Dokubo said his predecessors were more interested in education and training of the ex-combatants without attention to empowerment and job placement.

However, since 2018, he said the new thinking shifted to job placement programmes, micro-credit, cooperatives, business support, monitoring and evaluation.

He said the Niger-Delta youths should not only be taught to do things through training and education, but should also be assisted to rediscover their potentialities, to be self-reliant and be engaged.

In the last two years, he said over 20, 000 ex-combatants have graduated from various training in and outside the country, with about 3,243 of them currently undergoing trainings, while 5,578 are awaiting enlistment into the training.

On education, he said of 2,577 persons currently in school, about 1,060 persons are studying in about 10 private and government universities in Nigeria. These are apart from about 1,517 other studying abroad in over 50 universities in Europe, Asia, Africa and Americas.

On vocational/skill acquisition, the coordinator said about 18,602 people received vocational training in specialized courses in agriculture (2,265); automobile mechanics (1,171); welding/fabrication (4,686); entrepreneurship (2,074); carpentry, plumbing & pipe-fitting (402) and electrical installation/maintenance (714).

Others are Information and Communications Technology (401); Crane/heavy duty operations (1,536); health safety and environment (249); music/fashion/entertainment/catering (1688); others (2,185); aviation (187) and Boat building (152).

Of the 3,243 in training, Mr Dokubo said about 3,006 are receiving education; 2,799 in universities various in Nigeria, and 207 students in universities and colleges abroad.

At the moment, he said about 237 are receiving specialized vocational training; 217 in vocational/skills acquisition schemes in Nigeria and 20 other are undergoing specialized training in Aviation at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT).

The PAP, in collaboration with the different state governments and some United Nations agencies has established two Vocational Training Centres (VTCs) in Agadaba-Obon, Ondo State and Kaiama in Bayelsa State for oil and gas training and Basic Skills Training respectively.

To ensure the youths in the Niger Delta region get adequate trainings, he said plans are on to establish similar institutions in other states.

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