THE post amnesty programme of the Federal Government should run on better steam than the hitches that are rising over management of the 2,000 who are in camp for rehabilitation. Unfortunately, inadequate preparations were made for the camping of the ex-militants.

Anger has greeted the initial phase of the programme which would offer the ex_militants training for a new life. Government brought in experts from abroad to handle this, an apparent indication of its seriousness.

There have been outstanding issues with the management of the amnesty programme since it commenced last year. Many of the former militants had thought life outside their struggle in the creeks would have transformed them to better existence. They have reasons for the optimism.

Government made promises to them that led them to drop their arms. The details of the negotiations are not public. Government had insisted from the beginning that it was not paying money for arms militants surrender. In place of money for arms, it promised to equip them with skills to fit into regular civil life.

One question that has not been satisfactorily answered is how the militants were to survive while acquiring the skills and the certainties of them being employed after the training.

It is obvious that communication between the organisers of the programme and the militants failed again. The speculations about the entitlements of militants who surrendered had been on since last year. What would have been wrong in government telling the militants their due?

Government must rally round fast to rescue the programme. There is no time to start sharing blames.

The communication gap between expectations and the reality in the camp would have effects beyond this programme to government’s general relations with other people.

It is also important that the issues are resolved soon because what happens in this first phase would have great impact on how the rest of the programme runs.

If these initial problems of allowances, accommodation, and facilities at the camp are not tackled properly, how would the organisers cope with training the remaining 18,000 militants?

Government should be commended for getting the programme to this stage. However, adequate inputs, including ones from the host communities, are always needed for programmes of this magnitude to run successfully.

Reports of security lapses in camp and the other complaints that surround the programme should form part of the initial learning curve in its execution.

We expect that subsequent versions of the programme would take the experiences into consideration in arriving at ways of rehabilitating the former militants.

The Federal Government should also involve the States and other stakeholders in finding proper engagements for these youths after the exercise.

More importantly, governments should focus more attention on the general improvement of the economy and the ability of ordinary Nigerians to become more productive.

There are millions of unemployed Nigerians without hope and without a future.
If there is no improvement in their condition, they would be worse militants than the ones we are trying to rehabilitate.


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