By Barr. Mary Oyibocha Agbajoh
The Niger Delta Amnesty programme was established in  June 25, 2009   by late    President Umaru Yar’Adua  aimed    at reducing unrest in the oil-rich    Region of Niger Delta by appeasing  certain Youths of the Niger Delta populace that have resorted to   agitation for the development of the region through act of  militancy thereby threatening peace, security, order and good governance and jeopardising the economy of the nation.

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Its  establishment  is in pursuant of  Section 175 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria whereby  the Government  acknowledged    the challenges of the Niger Delta region which  arose mainly from the inadequacies of previous attempts at meeting the yearnings and aspiration of the people, and have set in motion machinery for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta States.
Charles DokuboThe programme is divided into three phases of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration otherwise known as DDR. The first phase which is Disarmament involves disarming the combatants. The second phase is Demobilisation which has to do with camping and training, while the third phase is Reintegration of the trained agitators    into the society.
For now, the  Amnesty Programme is in the third phase which is Reintegration hence both the first and second  phases have been achieved.
The Amnesty Programme  was not established as an exclusive preservation of  few personalities in the region, rather it was created to build capacity for the youths in the nine states of the Niger Delta region to participate effectively in urban poverty reduction through training, education empowerment and by offering employment opportunities and self employment in    formal and informal sectors.
It is important to note that Niger Delta youths have  so far benefitted from the programme  as  PhD   graduates, pilots, engineers, welders, lawyers and the likes.
On the issue of peace in the Niger Delta region, one will equally agree that peace has largely been restored and the Nigerian economy is the better for it hence  oil production level has improved remarkably from what it was before the programme was set up and what it is now.
Of great importance however is that since the emergence of Prof Charles Dokubo as Special Adviser to  President Muhammadu on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme,   the Agency had not only been re-positioned for optimum achievements of its objectives and goals, it has equally brought life, succor, peace and economic development to Niger Delta Region and Nigeria.
The beginning of his success story was observed in the upliftment of Amnesty educational programme. Besides deploring 1,807 delegates to 145 institutions across the globe for various educational programmes by the offshore education unit of the Amnesty Office, 207 students spread across 66 institutions in 20 countries are currently studying various courses.
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Under Dokubo tutelage, the onshore education unit of the Amnesty Office attended promptly to the welfare of students pursuing degree programmes in Nigerian institutions. As at this moment, no fewer than 500 Niger Delta Students are studying various courses both in private and government universities across the country under the sponsorship of Presidential Amnesty programme. Beside, 339 Niger Delta students in various universities in the country are expected to graduate in the 2017/2018 academic session. This is an improvement on the 300 recorded last year.
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Aware of his core mandate of the Reintegration through training re-training and empowerment of the youths so as to impact positively in their community in particular and Nigeria in general,    Prof Dokubo set out   to put finishing touches to five vocational training centres across the Niger Delta Region. They include the Maritime Vocational Training Centre at Oboloma, Rivers State, Basic Skills Vocational Training Centre in Boro Town, Kaiama, Bayelsa State, Power and Energy Vocational Training Centre in Bomadi, Delta State, Oil and Gas Vocational Training Centre, Agadagba-Obon, Ondo State and the Agricultural Vocational Training Centre in Gelegele, Edo State.
The vocational centres at Agadagba and Kaiama are expected to be operational by next month. The objective is  to empower ex-agitators with viable skills to become economically independent and relevant to themselves, families, communities and the nation.
Under Dokubo, Reintegration has taking a new turn. Beneficiaries are made to make judicious use of their starter packs. Unlike in the past when the items were sold out, the monitoring measures put in place made them to make good use of the opportunity to become entrepreneurs and employers of labour thereby contributing to the development of the economy of the Nation.
He has facilitated job placement for beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme through a Job Placement and International Development Partners Engagement Unit (JPIDPEU), which he created on assumption of office. So far, the unit has profiled twenty eight delegates for underwater welding jobs, one hundred delegates for civil service jobs and ten    delegates for aviation crop spray pilot jobs. It has also concluded profiling of twenty delegates for catering services, hotel and fast food jobs and seventy delegates for other job opportunities.
He was able to achieve the  aforementioned feats and others because on resumption of office, Prof. Dokubo who is very well grounded with the Struggle and Pains of the people of the Niger Region opted for an “Open Door” policy whereby he took his time to listen to every stakeholder especially the youths  and ex-agitators, unlike in the past where the Niger Delta youths were inaccessible to former boss of the Amnesty Programme.
The fear of the Niger-Delta people right now is that the achievements so far achieved by the programme could be a wasted effort because of some self  acclaimed  leaders in the region have been causing huge distraction by  trying to make the amnesty office their personal preserves in attempt to force their siblings on the management.  These  People who go about dropping names of men in high authorities at the expense of stipulated guidelines of the Programe.
This inappropriate behaviour may not augur well for the smooth execution and success of the programme.   Those involve in this act should understand that no single individual or group of persons or ethnic nationality  have exclusive right to the amnesty programme.    The Amnesty Programme belongs to all Niger Delta indigenes.
They should understand that their actions are  causing huge distraction for the Coordinator  and Management of the Amnesty Programme. If this action is allowed to continue it will prevent them from working effectively to deliver on their set goals and objectives of repositioning the   programme for the optimum good and development of the Niger Delta region.
At   this stage, it is advisable that those involve in this act should henceforth  desist from it and follow due process.   If due process is followed, the programme which is a continuous one will spread to all and sundry.
The successes of the Amnesty Programme and genuine developmental strides by the Amnesty boss should not be sabotaged by any single individual or group of people.
Barr Mary Agbajoh, a Social Commentator and Political Strategist writes from Abuja


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Amnesty Office: Not exclusive preserve for a few… – Nwafor Polycarp – 2018-11-18 08:03:12

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