By Emma Amaize
SPECIAL Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Committee, Hon. Kingsley Kuku has said that ex-militant leaders, including the leader of the non-operational Movement for Emanicipation of Niger-Delta, MEND, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo and ex-Rivers warlord, Ateke Tom would soon undergo non-violence leadership training by the Amnesty Office.
Hon Kuku who clarified in an interview with Saturday Vanguard that the Federal Government did not exclude ex-militant leaders from the programme stated that some ‘commanders’ and ‘generals’ had already undergone training at the Ex-militants Re-orientation Camp, Obubra in Cross River state.
In his words, “The plan is in the pipeline. Victor Ebikabowei Ben, alias General Boyloaf had since undergone non-violence training and he is preparing for the advanced stage of the programme, which will take him to the United States of America”.
The special adviser asserted that the Federal Government has put together a package for the ex-militant leaders which is different from that of their boys, saying, “It is a promise made to them and government will not renege on it.”
He stated that the ex-militant leaders were very crucial to the peace programme of the government in the Niger-Delta, as they would be the ones that would be consulted after their training to provide non-violence training when necessary for others in the region.
Tompolo ready for non-violence leadership training— Bebenimibo
A Niger-Delta activist and one-time official of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Western zone, Comrade Paul Bebenimibo told Saturday Vanguard that there was nothing wrong with Tompolo and other ex-militant leaders undergoing the training , as it was a programme put together for all those that accepeted amnesty.
Bebenimibo who is also an communication advisor to Tompolo said he was aware the Amnesty Office was planning a leadership training programme for ex-militant leaders, but did not know when it would take place.
“What I know is that such a programme is in the offing. It is to document the ex-militant leaders but may be because of some reasons, they have not started it. However, I want you to know that contrary to the wicked speculations against Tompolo, he has been working tirelessly to ensure that the ex-militants who accepted amnesty undergo the training, skill acquisition programmes and other things so that they will be employed. This is because he knows that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.
“You know, initially, when the Federal Government was begging militants to drop arms and acccept amnesty, they made a lot of promises, like when the ex-militant leaders came to Abuja to meet with the former President, the late Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua, he asked them to name what they want to drop arms, some of them told him many things, but Tompolo knew what he wanted for the boys, he insisted on pipeline jobs and that was how pipeline jobs for 30,000 youths in the region came about.
“He had kept up telling the boys to be patient since then, saying that even if government promised to provide something for you in three months because they want to bring you out of the creeks, they should give them between one years and two years, as long as there is evidence that there is a political will to implement those things because those who made the promise are politicians.
If the governement engages the Niger-Delta youths, I don’t think there will be any need for them to continue bombing. It is not that amnesty is the answer to the Niger-Delta problem but it is a medium to ensure that the government plays its part in developing the region in an atmosphere of peace”.