By Emma Ujah,Â Abuja Bureau Chief
ABUJAâ€”Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta and National Coordinator of the Post- Amnesty Programme, Mr. Timi Alaibe, has blamed the lull in the implementation of the programme on lack of proper planning before the announcement of the amnesty, given the fact that the nation was faced with a major crisis in the Niger Delta, at the time.
â€œWe experienced some sort of delay in the programme because there was no structure on ground, no concrete plan document because we were in a crisis.â€
However, he added that the Federal Government has rejuvenated the programme which indicates that it has announced a June 1, 2010 date for call-in of ex-militants to a new camp.
Alaibe, who announced this in Abuja, yesterday, explained that the Federal Government was adopting a fresh strategy in which all affected ex-militants would be trained in a new camp outside the Niger Delta.
According to Alaibe, who was a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, disarmament was the easiest aspect of the programme while demobilization, rehabilitation and re-integration required a careful planning and implementation to guarantee success.
He revealed that his team has been working round the clock to come out with an implementable programme of action which was announced yesterday and that it would now hit the ground running, given that the ex-combatants and other stakeholders were eager to see the implementation of the programme.
â€œOne major challenge which would be tackled,â€ Mr. Alaibe said, â€œis ascertaining the true figure of ex-militants to benefit from the post-amnesty programme,â€ adding, â€œthere are reasons that make the verification exercise very necessary.â€
According to him, the initial figure of those that turned in weapons was 20, 192 but that several others surrendered their weapons after the October 2009 deadline, when it became obvious to them that the federal government was indeed sincere and ready to make good its promises on the amnesty.
Documentation of the ex-militants, he said, therefore, has to be a continuous exercise until all those involved are fully captured but that those who thought they could exploit the programme for selfish interests would be frustrated through the planned biometric technology to be adopted.
â€œAt some point there was connivance to inflate the number.Â How can you surrender 20 AK 47s andÂ bring 500 names.Â How can that be?Â Even if you were running a shift, how can anyone convince you that 500 ex-militants were using 20 guns?
Mr. Alaibe said the militants to be invited to camp in batches of 2,000,Â would first undergo a non-violence training with a view to re-orientating them on a change of strategy and perception of the Niger Delta situation before other forms of knowledge acquisition andÂ skill training in various trades with which to be gainfully employed in the society.
According to him, the skill acquisition would mainly be in areas such as welding, sea-faring, Small and Medium Enterprises management to enable the beneficiaries effectively key into the oil industry as well as open enterprises that could further service the industry and the local communities.
A 300-man faculty, the post- amnesty coordinator said, would be involved in the training with internationally acclaimed non-violence civil rights experts such as Prof. Bernard Lafayette of the University of Rhodes Island
Bernard LaFayette, Jr. has been a Civil Rights Movement activist, minister, educator, lecturer, and is an authority on the strategy on nonviolent social change. He co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960 and National Coordinator of the 1968 Poor Peoplesâ€™ Campaign by Martin Luther King.
Mr. Alaibe said the names in militanc, oil companies and development partners were all involved in the programme implementation, which he described as signal that a final solution to the Niger Delta challenge had come.