The Federal Government's Amnesty Programme Office has certified a fresh batch of ex-militants from the Niger Delta as marine divers as part of the efforts to engage the repentant militants in constructive jobs that would prevent them from returning to the creeks to abduct oil workers and destroy oil and gas infrastructure.
The 64 ex-fighters were successfully certified recently after undergoing a six-month course in marine diving at the Nigeria Naval Underwater Warfare School in Lagos.
The training, which was a success story of Public-Private Partnership (PPP), was also a product of collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and the Mieka Dive Training Institute, which is a private indigenous company.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony in Lagos, Commanding Officer, Underwater Warfare School, Ojo, Lagos, Navy Captain Osoba Tajudeen, stated that both parties worked assiduously to ensure that the ex-agitators were given adequate skill acquisition exercise in diving and other related fields in human development and capacity building.
He congratulated the graduates for their successful completion of the diving course and urged the trainees to focus on the task ahead as they venture into the marine world.
Also speaking during the ceremony, the Managing Director, Mieka Dive Limited, Mr. Pondi Kestin, reminded the ex-militants that completing the course did not automatically translate to success for them.
He noted that only discipline, positive attitude and determination on their part would ultimately lead them to success in the long run.
"The experience you have garnered here must be put to good use to enhance your communal and socio-economic life. Henceforth, you must be good ambassadors of both the Nigeria Naval and the Mieka Dive Training Institution. The time you give to practicing what you have learnt and your continuous exposure to modern diving skills will determine whether you will fail or succeed. But my prayer for you is that all of you who have gone through this program become successful as you venture into the world of diving," he said.
Kestin noted that the success of the training programme did not come without some serious challenges.
He however pointed out that the greater excellence lies in the maturity displayed by both parties in the partnership, especially the field men, who he said handled some ugly situations and converted them to success.
"In the next batch of training, mistakes encountered previously would be completely avoided. An improved form of synergy will be explored to bring about better results, because success for us, is continuous improvement in what we do," he added.
He said he was aware that the Nigerian Navy wanted a review of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two parties and gave an assurance that his company also welcomes a review of the MoU.
According to him, it is by a review of the MoU that all the loopholes could be rectified for the advancement of the partnership.
Some of the graduates were given awards for their outstanding performance in good behaviour, practical training, and theory during the six-month course.
The Federal Government had earlier commenced effective implementation of the third phase of the programme for the ex-agitators of the Niger Delta.
The target of restoring peace, safety and security in the oil-rich region, using the instrumentalities of the programme has however been met as the country's economy has rebounded.
From a production level of 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day as at first week of January 2009, the relative peace that currently prevails in the region as a result of the amnesty programme has aided the remarkable growth of the country's oil production to between 2.6 million barrels per day.
With 2.6 million barrels of crude oil per day production capacity as against the abysmally low 700,000 bpd at the peak of the Niger Delta crisis, the amnesty programme is currently making production savings of 1.9 million barrels per day for the country.