1. The Presidential Amnesty Programme has opened a fresh page in reversing the resource curse. In 2008 alone, it was estimated that Nigeria lost over 3 trillion Naira as a result of militancy in the Niger Delta. This ugly situation has been turned around.
2. This resulted in increase in oil production and a corresponding increase in foreign exchange earnings of the Country. With peace restored in the Region, oil companies and associated companies reopened shut oil in wells. The result is that Nigeria’s oil production increased from 800,000 Barrels per day to 2.8 mbpd.
3. It brought about sustainable peace in the Niger Delta Region, making the ex-militants to embrace peace and to surrender their weapons. With cessation of hostilities, government assured the international community fill its OPEC quota and be trusted by major consumer nations to meet its contractual obligations.
4. With renewed confidence in the international oil market, Nigeria started to exercise enormous influence in OPEC and other sub-regional bodies. The increase in Nigeria’s quota of oil production is a result of reduced incidence of kidnapping, which provides the right environment for the repairs of oil and gas infrastructures damaged during the period of militant agitation. It has also provided ample opportunity for contractors handling developmental projects a lee-way to fast-track sustainable development in the NDR.
5. It reduced the violation and vandalization of oil facilities. Kingsley Kuku was involved in the Niger Delta struggle hence he has first class knowledge of the needs of youths in the Region. He got the youths emotionally involved to appreciate the essence of the programme and what they stand to gain when they painstakingly undergo the required training and acquire the requisite skills.
6. An opinion poll conducted in three States: Ondo, Rivers and Delta States by concerned Niger Deltans showed that among all the development agencies that have operated in the Niger Delta Region, the Amnesty Programme has created more impact on the lives of the ordinary masses especially youths.
7. Through the PAP, vigorous human capacity building programmes were mounted for the production of intermediate manpower in under-water (Algon welding), piloting, seafaring and marine engineering. Most of the skills and vocations include: auto mechanics, Boat building, Safety programmes and ICT.
8. By popular demand, the Amnesty has sponsored Niger Delta Youths who are interested in acquiring higher education. Accordingly, the Programme has fully paid the fees of ND Students studying in the UK. Ukraine; Russia, South Africa and the United States. This kind gesture is to complement the various scholarship programmes embarked upon by the various States.
9. The overriding objective is to train an army of middle and high caliber manpower to provide services in the various oil, gas and agro-allied industries. When these people are fortified with skills, the Region will not depend on crude oil alone as a source of foreign exchange. Hon. Kingsley Kuku was able to achieve this feat because he is generously endowed with a team building spirit, the right organizational skills, the passion and above all the right strategy to push the programme beyond traditional frontiers
10. The wide scope of the training components is also unique. The entire gamut of skills acquired by the recipients range from Ocean diving in Sri-Lanka; under-water welding in Ghana; Boat building and seafaring in the Philippines and piloting South Africa.
11. Postgraduate studies: Some Niger Delta youths are undergoing their postgraduate courses in Russia, Ukraine and the United States of America. A sizeable number of youths have been sent to South Africa. A substantial number of youths were also sent to Israel for agricultural training, India for ICT and to Poland, for crane operation and pipeline welding. These are skills that are of strategic economic interest of the nation and the oil-rich Niger Delta Region.
12. More Skills Acquisition: The wide scope of the training components is also unique. The entire gamut of skills acquired by the recipients range from Ocean diving in Sri-Lanka; under-water welding in Ghana; Boat building and seafaring in the Philippines and piloting South Africa. Some Niger Delta youths are undergoing their postgraduate courses in Russia, Ukraine and the United States of America. A substantial number of youths were also sent to Israel for agricultural training, India for ICT and to Poland, for crane operation and pipeline welding.
13. In discussing the fruits of the PAP, most people point at the primacy of economic benefits of increased oil production and relative peace in NDR. However, there are other intangible benefits that far outweigh the economic boom heralded by the PAP. The transformational activities offered by the PAP have extinguished the belief of the ex-agitators that resort to violence is more powerful than nonviolence. Ex-combatants have been relieved of the burden of violence and now, youths have been given the opportunity of ccareer guidance to realize their aspirations in terms of education, vocational and entrepreneurial skills.
14. The fact that the Amnesty programme is designed to diversify the economy is a unique development that appears to have reversed the Resource Curse in the ND Region.
15. The transformational activities offered by the PAP have extinguished the belief of the ex-agitators that resort to violence is more powerful than nonviolence. Ex-combatants have been relieved of the burden of violence and now, youths have been given the opportunity of ccareer guidance to realize their aspirations in terms of education, vocational and entrepreneurial skills.
16. Non-Violence Training: All those who passed through the Amnesty Programme also passed through non-violence training at the Obubra Camp. Their placements were 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, recharge card retailing and business centers operations.
NOTE THAT THE AMNESTY PROGRAMME IS NOT 100% SUCCESS. While it may be true that the PAP pursues national reconciliation, it does not squarely address the root of the crisis, namely marginalization, poverty of oil bearing communities, corruption and moral culpability of MNOCs. This can be explained because there are more robust programmes that address such knotty issues. Again the role of the MNCs requires some revisionism. As part of their corporate social responsibility, the MNCs should invest a certain percentage of their resources in the region through infrastructural and institutional development. This will help in confidence building and reduce conflict. This should be implemented along with a sustainable and proactive re-orientation of youths in the Region.
So far, the Amnesty Programme is the most successful progtramme ever implemented since the Willink Commission. The other Agencies are:
1960 – Niger Delta Development Board, NDDB
1970 – Niger Delta Basin Development Authority, NDBDA
1993 – Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC
2000 – Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC
2002 – Lt. General Alexander Ogomudia Special Security Committee Report
2003 – General Muhammed Buhari Presidential Committee on Peace & Reconciliation
2006 – General Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Committee on the Niger Delta
2007 – President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s Seven-Point Agenda ( N/Delta Security)
2008 – Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, MONDA
2009 – Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP
COURTESY: NIGER DELTA INTEGRITY GROUP (NDIG)