By Emma Ujah
THE Federal Government, yesterday, approved the inclusion of additional 6, 166 ex-militants in the on-going amnesty programme.
The inclusion, according to a statement from the office of the special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Timi Alaibe, followed the success so far recorded in the programme.
Already, many of the initial 20,000 ex-militants who embraced the Amnesty programme have under gone non-violence transformational training at the Obubra Camp in Cross River State.
The statement said the ex-militants would join the others who are currently being trained in different skills to enable them participate in the various projects lined up for the development of the region.
Alaibe said the President projects that the reintegrated ex-militants should be playing pivotal role in the development of the region by the last quarter of the 2011.
While noting that his office had secured 114 vocational/skills acquisition centres within and outside the country for the purpose of meeting the President’s projection, Alaibe said the delay in the inclusion of the ex-militants was because most of those who accepted the government’s Amnesty programme failed to submit their arms before the expiration of the October 4, 2009 deadline.
He 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.
Pleas from all quarters
“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.”
Alaibe, however, assured that the President was determined to see to the success of the programme, adding that 7,286 transformed ex-militants were allocated to training centres within Nigeria and abroad. Out of the figure, he noted that 4,424 were allocated locally while 2,618 were allocated to centres abroad.
He added: “President Goodluck Jonathan’s plans for the transformed ex-militants are very clear and unambiguous. He wants them properly skilled so that then 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 Delta.
“Just as enshrined in the Niger Delta regional master plan, we have new town projects, new roads, particularly the East-West bypass; the railway project that was approved not too long ago and so on. President Jonathan has given us a key mandate to prepare these youths to play key roles in the actualisation of these projects. We have accepted the challenge and we are working practically round the clock to actualise this vision of Mr. President.
“All the 20,192 registered ex-militants will pass through the non-violence transformational training. It is compulsory. Once they pass through Obubra Camp, we will place them in skills acquisition centres based on the preferred choice of vocation.”
Alaibe said placements of the trainees in vocational institutions was 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 centres operations.
The duration of the vocational training for each of the trainees is expected to span between six months and two years.
The Special Adviser said the programme was the most successful disarmament carried out in the history of DDR in Africa where a total of 20, 192 ex-militants were duly registered after the completion of the disarmament exercise.