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Niger Delta: Panel Faults Post-Amnesty Deals

Niger Delta: Panel Faults Post-Amnesty Deals

AN eight-man panel that was set up to review the post-amnesty deals for repentant militants of the Niger Delta, has roundly faulted the rehabilitation and training programmes of the Presidential Committee on Amnesty (PCA).

On Sunday January 10, 2010, ex-militants, youth leaders in the oil and gas region as well as a sub committee of the PCA on the Rehabilitation of the militants met in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, to review the workplan which had been drawn up by the PCA headed by retired Major General Godwin Abbe, who is also the Defence Min ister.
The eight-man panel which was headed by Patterson Ogon, the founding Director of the Ijaw Council for Human Rights (ICHR), in their report said that 80 per cent of the estimated cost for the running of the programmes is going to consultants and contractors, leaving the beneficiaries (ex-militants) with just 20 per cent..

The panel which also had Nollywood star and actress, Hilda Dokubo as Secretary. claimed that the plan has not taken into consideration those who have been directly affected and traumatised by the crisis; especially those who have lost their sources of livelihood and major breadwinners. These includes: mothers of dead militants, wives, children and siblings.

The Ogon panel said they observed that inspite of the amnesty, ''a great number of Niger Delta agitators are still in detention. This shows a double standard position of peace and war''.

According to them, ''status of institution for training falls far short of acceptable standard, as they are neither certified nor can award acceptable certificates Most of them have inadequate facilities for proper impartation of knowledge and skills''.

The panel is pushing for training and training institutions in key sectors like maritime, oil and gas, which they claimed were left out by the PCA. For information communication technology, they opted for NIIT and APTECH,

For the entertainment industry, they said institutions such as the Centre for Creative Arts Education and PEFTI are preferable, while for, entrepreneurship training, they recommended Quantum, and for sports, sports academies.

According to the panel, the number of 20,000 ex-militants recorded by the PCA ''is over bloated. We therefore, suggest that the team meticulously review this number and ensure that identified leaders of key agitating groups be contacted as they have complained of not being carried along in any of the processes including the raising of the number to 20,000''

The panel gave the names of some of the ex-militant leaders they spoke with as (Buster rhymes) Prince Amabiye, Ken Opusuiju (Ken Kula), (Egberi Papa) Soboma Jackrich, Chris Donpedro, and Young Shall Grow.

Moves by the PCA to grant loans to the ex-militants was rejected by the Ogon panel. According to them, ''this is unacceptable. In its place we suggest a development grant and the establishment of incubation centres''.

Continuing, they said the sum of N50 million allegedly earmarked by the PCA for the training of trainers ''gives us reason to question the capacity of the trainers who need to be retrained

They pointed out that all the militants who were involved in the arms struggle, ''took up arms with the full knowledge of its implication and have since after the amnesty and disarmament returned successfully and continued with normal life. So, the suggestion of psychiatrists is a direct abuse on the mental, emotional and psychological state of the ex-militants''.

The programme duration as proposed by the PCA are between three to 36 months. Accommodation and other logistics plans are designed for six months, and all the participants are expected to cater for themselves after six months.

Apparently irked, the panel claimed that the sum of N20 million proposed by the PCA for hall rentals and N6.750 billion for accommodation, ''gives us reason to query why this amount should not be used in rebuilding our destroyed communities and setting up skills incubation centre’s for beneficiaries?

Adding, they said the PCA document contradict itself in activity, target groups and needs. ''The document indicates that they already have information on needs and asset assessment, therefore no need for the needs assessment estimated at N500 million''.

''Candidates requiring further academic education are not adequately prepared for in the document. May we state clearly that all graduate and post graduate participants be sent to universities abroad.

''There is no Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework mentioned in the document. There is also no parameters for measurement of success/failure of suggested activities of programmes'', the panel said.

NAPEP, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), ministries, departments, agencies as well as the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, according to the Ogon panel, ''are being saddled with responsibilities they are not equipped to carry out effectively. We state this unequivocally based on their several failed activities in the Niger Delta and the roleS their activities have played in promoting restiveness and crisis in the region''.pnyw

In a bid to avoid any actual/ bonafide beneficiary being left out of the process or give reasons for regrouping of persons/ groups for antisocial activities as a result of feeling excluded, the panel is recommending as follows:

All those directly affected by the crisis especially women (wives and mothers) who have lost their sources of livelihood and major breadwinners as a result of the crisis be included in all plans and projections for rehabilitation and reintegration.

Data collection should be done in collaboration with all ex-militant camp commanders, Niger Delta agitators, the amnesty sub-committee and registrars/ consultants.

The period of two weeks be used exclusively and meticulous for data collation and documentation only

Indices and indicators for M&E be designed by indigenous activist consultants and trainers.

All the programmes be monitored and evaluated by indigenous (NIGER DELTA) consultant/experts and some notable agitators with successful history of working with high risk groups and policy makers.

One of the major drivers of the Niger Delta crisis is in the discrepancy in oil and gas industry especially in employment, scholarship, inequality and quality of living conditions of host communities, and knowing that any programme without their consideration will lead to a collapse of the programme.

Oil and gas programmes must be factored in and beneficiaries sent to recognized colleges, skills centers and universities at home and abroad, with recognized accreditation and certification.

Training modules must be cross cutting and adequate to enable participants operate successful and sustainable businesses.

All training centers must have at least, national accreditation that gives it authority to award recognized certificates acceptable at all relevant levels for employment.

The N6.750 billion, earmarked for accommodation be used to set up the tents and more business incubation centers across the Niger Delta states.

More money should be allocated to the beneficiaries and success of the training rather than to the managers and contractors.


While opposing the training of their youths by substandard bodies, the panel added, ''we are not comfortable with the certification like City & Guilds, trade, test''.

They are claiming that business centre facilities are not adequate to cater for the training needs and requirements for the estimated number of participants.

Business centres, according to them, lack the necessary legitimate right to award credible certificates because of their inadequate ''technical capacity''.

ENDS

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