By  KENNETH EHIGIATOR
The Federal Government has rejected the $30 million offered by major oil and gas companies towards the training of ex-militants in the Niger Delta, saying the money was too small, compared to the N3 trillion it has lost to the crisis in the region.

According to the government, Shell, Chevron, Agip, amongst others, cannot be offering $30 million for training of the ex-militants when they make so much out of the region, and despite the problems caused by their activities.

Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, echoed government’s disappointment at a meeting with Niger Delta stakeholders, including those in the diaspora, in Lagos yesterday.

Kuku also flayed the companies  offering to train in skill acquisition only 3,000 of the over 26,000 ex-militants who have surrendered their arms to the government and accepted amnesty.

He said:“Shell, Agip, Chevron and other oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta have offered $30 million towards the training of the ex-militants who have accepted amnesty when this country has lost over N3 trillion to the crisis in the region.  We reject the proposal of the oil companies because it is not enough.“It is also worthy of note that the key operators in the nation’s oil and gas industry, OGI, have set up a special purpose vehicle to help in the reintegration of 3,000 of the ex-militants enrolled in the amnesty programme.

“This number, I dare say, is clearly not sufficient, given the total figure of more than 26,000 former combatants.  Using the templates of the Amnesty Office, the OGI will offer second level of non-violence training to these ones and eventually place them in skills acquisition/training centres, based on classification carried out at the amnesty camp at Obubra.”

Kuku expressed fears that unless government got the necessary support of the oil and gas companies in the Niger Delta, hundreds of the ex-militants might remain unemployed after their training.

Consequently, he said government was already interfacing with some of its agencies to assuage the fears, but stressed that oil and gas companies could assist government tackle the problem of engaging the ex-militants after their training.

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