The Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, has pleaded with the Federal Government to expand the Presidential Amnesty Programme to accommodate more ex-agitators in the Niger Delta region.
Ajayi made the plea on Friday at the inauguration of the first vocational training centre built by the Amnesty office located at Agadagba-Obon, Ondo State.
He said the inclusion of more ex-agitators into the Amnesty Programme became necessary following series of complains from non-beneficiaries and the establishment of vocational training centres across the Niger Delta states.
He said: “We appeal to the Federal Government to ensure that this programme is well funded and when this is done, be rest assured that the youths won’t go back to do what they have been doing in the past.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has further strengthened the programme and that is why you are seeing this centre being inaugurated; it was earlier abandoned but now, it will ensure we have more people in the programme.
“Having said this, I appeal that you consider some of our disarmed youths for the programme as soon as this centre is operational, to enable them benefit from the training.
“The essence of this programme is to impact lives of the individuals (ex-agitators), but it has transformed the entire Niger Delta states in the area of capacity building, and it has sustained peace more than before.”
He commended Kingsley Kuku, former Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs, and other former coordinators of the Amnesty Programme for their contributions towards the successful completion of the project.
Ajayi commended Prof. Charles Dokubo, Coordinator of the PAP for prudently managing the resources for the programme which had seen to the completion of its first vocational centre.
Paramount Ruler of Arogbo Ijaw Kingdom, His Imperial Majesty, Pere Egbunu, applauded the Amnesty office for its exploits in a very short time, noting that the vocational training centre would further bring peace to his domain.
The traditional ruler who was accompanied to the ceremony by retinue of chiefs said the training of the ex-agitators was an indication that government was sincerely prosecuting the Amnesty Programme.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, represented by Senator Baba Kaka Garba, expressed the support of the Nigerian Senate to a peaceful Niger Delta region.
He noted that the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government had shown enough commitment to the development of the oil producing areas.
This, he said was evident in some of the projects cited in the Niger Delta for human development.
Coordinator of the programme, Prof. Dokubo, commended everyone who ensured peace returned to the Niger Delta, especially President Muhammadu Buhari who gave him the opportunity to pilot the Amnesty Programme.
He said: “I thank you all for being here to share in the joy of the landmark commissioning and full activation of the Presidential Amnesty Programme’s oil and gas basic skills vocational training centre in this serene coastal community of Agadagba-Obon in Ese-Odo LGA of Ondo State.
“We are here to celebrate another promise that has been kept by our forthright and incorruptible leader, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Like many of us may recall, when the president assumed office in May 2015, he was immediately inundated with calls to abruptly wind up the Amnesty Programme.
“But being a statesman who has a perfect understanding of how every component of Nigeria works, the president resisted the pressure and announced his determination to make the programme much more inclusive and robust.”
Dokubo also said that four more vocational centres located in Kaiama, Bayelsa; Bomadi in Delta; Obuama in Rivers and Gelegele in Edo will soon be inaugurated for the reintegration of about 9,000 of 30,000 ex-agitators captured in the Amnesty Programme.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Petroleum Training Institute Effurun, Delta will be anchoring the training which is expected to last six months for each set of 50 trainees.
The trainees will be tutored on process engineering, mechatronics (combination of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering), as well as instrumentation and control.