13 February 2011

Nigeria: FG Urged to Take Ex-Militants' Training Beyond Oil, Gas Sectors

Intellectuals from the Niger Delta, including those in the diaspora, met weekend, in Lagos to review Federal Government's implementation of its post-amnesty programme so far, and concluded that the training of former militants should go beyond activities in oil and gas sector of the economy.

Participants, drawn from the United States, Canada and United Kingdom, noted that in as much as government was on the right track with the amnesty programme, efforts should be made to ensure that former militants, who accepted the amnesty were integrated in such a manner that they could become drivers of the oil and gas sector in future.

Mr. Tony Uranta, member of the Niger Delta Technical Committee, suggested that the powers of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta should be strengthened so that it would have no draw-back from the Niger Delta Ministry.

Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, earlier said the amnesty programme had been a success, and that the nation's oil production capacity had increased from 700,000 barrels per day to 2.3 million due to the programme.

"Without mincing words, I wish to boldly state that the amnesty programme has been a success largely," he added.

Yes, we all have our strong views about how the programme ought to be run or managed but I doubt if there is anyone who holds the view that the programme is a failure or is suffering redundancy," Kuku said.

He also said training and job creation for youths in the Niger Delta should not be limited only to ex-militants, but also all unemployed youths in the region, explaining this remained the only other jobless youths would not drift into militancy.

"If this amnesty programme is limited only to the former combatants, other unemployed youths in the region would think it pays to take up arms in order to be recognised by the government. So, it is better for other unemployed youths in the region to be included in government training and job creation programme of the government," Uranta said.

Other participants, who spoke at the meeting, said government could also initiate training for the ex-militants in other sectors of the economy and have such areas integrated into the oil and gas sector, with a view to expanding the capacity of the sector to create more job opportunities for youths in the region.

The need for training in enterpreneural skills was stressed by the delegation from the United States, who contended that since government alone could not create all jobs, it was better to train the ex-militants and other unemployed youths in the act of creating jobs.

One issue that was central to all participants in the meeting was the need for government to establish training institutes in the country to avert taking the ex-militants outside the country for training.

According to them, the environment outside the country may not be suitable for government's purpose for trained ex-militants.

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