WITH the end of the amnesty granted militants on October 4, it is important that the Federal Government does not relapse into its habit of forgetting the region once it is guaranteed unfettered oil exploration.
The voluntary submission of arms by militants is just a phase in the long process of restoring peace in the area. In the past few weeks, the Federal Government has been ebullient about favourable oil receipts that have flowed from better access to oil fields and the improved security in the region.
This tends to lend credence to the allegation that dealing with insecurity in the region, which disrupts revenues from oil and gas, is the only sustainable government interest in the Niger Delta.
Suspicion remains high that either party would breach the peace terms. The former militants are discovering the full extent of the agreement. They have no jobs, and like other Nigerians, they would soon know that they are to fend for themselves, without the requisite skills for survival.
Leaders of the mobs might have kept a tidy pie for themselves, and the authorities would patronise them for as long as they are considered relevant, but the fact is that militants and non-militants need jobs.
The region requires developments to be fit for human habitation. Government must address with dispatch instead of celebrating increased revenues from oil and gas.
Joint Military Task Force officers should also tune down their utterances in line with changes taking place in the region. While they search for arms and maintain peace in the region, their truculence serves no useful purpose.
Former militants having voluntarily given up their arms and renounced militancy, should cooperate with the law enforcement agents to ensure the return of law and order in their areas.
They must submit themselves totally to the law byÂ working with law enforcement agents to ensure that all illegal arms are surrendered. The law enforcement agents should also realise that their mode of engagement with the ex-militants and people of the local communities have changed.
Confidence building between government agents and the local communities is critical at this stage. This is the only way by which the local communities will readily volunteer to assist in uncovering and recovering the hidden arms.
This underscores once again the necessity of government and the people working together as partners in restoring peace, providing security and working towards developing the areas and their human capital.
Government should pay attention too to the possibilities of hostilities among communities, especially revenge bids.
Arms have to be completely mopped up to create the peaceful setting required to develop the area. It is important that government has no further excuses in developing the Niger Delta at a pace that would counter the many decades of neglect.
These post amnesty issues in the Niger Delta are important to heal the wound of the region as the nation looks forward to more stability in its economy.