The Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, disclosed at the weekend that about 16,000 beneficiaries have graduated from training under the Programme.
He described the Amnesty Programme, which has a mandate to train and re-integrate 30,000 enlisted beneficiaries, as having a bright future for Niger Delta youths.
Speaking on Friday at the grand finale of the first Amnesty Programme culinary skills competition and empowerment in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, Dokubo said the event was just one of the various steps taken by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to re-integrate beneficiaries of the Programme into society.
He said: “This is the first of its kind since Amnesty started.
“The Amnesty Programme started with the training and re-integration of 30,000 beneficiaries, some from war torn and conflict society back to the mainstream in our development.
“What we are witnessing here today is just one of the various steps we’ve taken to re-integrate people into society.
“We are told that the Chinese have conquered the world with their culinary effect, but here we are telling the world that Amnesty has done more than that to capture the whole of Nigeria.
“The fact is that we have to train people, empower them and bring them back to society where they truly belong and it’s not been easy.
“I took over this office at the third phase, which is the re-integration process, where you build destroyed societies, build new infrastructure, set up communities that have been dislocated by conflicts and impacted by the effect of other environmental disasters.
“I strongly believe that the step we’ve taken today is just the beginning; beginning in the sense that we will continue to project the work of Amnesty Programme to every nook and corner of this country to show that people could be brought back from wherever they are and also re-integrated into society.”
Dokubo expressed optimism that the competition will also throw light into what Amnesty Programme can do.
He said: “Amnesty trains people and we have graduated up to 16,000 beneficiaries.
“There are a lot of people in vocational training and even in universities abroad; we are doing that to empower our people back to society, to enhance development in the Niger Delta.
“The programme is for all those in the Niger Delta impacted and afflicted by conflict and have been accepted by the Federal Government into this Programme.
“As we stand today and watch this competition, these are young women and men who have gone through the various training.
“They will be given starter packs; they will be given financial assistance, we are going to rent a place for them to start their business so that they could exit the Programme and also take care of their future.
“The future is so bright; in fact, Amnesty Programme is the beginning of their future.
“I believe that as we go through this programme and empower these youths by giving them the required resources, they are going back to society to setup their eateries; people will visit them, they earn money and everything and then, they will never forget Amnesty Programme.
“Amnesty will be right input in the imprints in their mind and they will know there is a place it all started, which is Amnesty Prgramme.”
The grand finale of the competition, preceding a boot camp in which 22 beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme trained in culinary arts participated, recorded a star winner, Ofoba Davies, among eight contestants.
Davies clinched the first prize after beating three other finalists: Ibiwari Isaiah, Ibinabo Franks and Mary George Pepple.
Various sums in cash and cheque between N200,000 and N800,000 were presented to the winner and runners up as part of an empowerment package, which included four packs of set of breakable flat and deep bowls, four packs of set of 24 cutlery, four industrial gas burner, oven and 12kg cylinder plus medium kerosene stoves and chest freezer.
Also in the starter packs for the beneficiaries are Sumec 3000 power generating set, 22 inch flat screen television, six sets of plastic tables and chairs, 1.5 hp air conditioner and industrial fan; sets of large, medium and small cookware, deep fryer, microwave and grill ovens, among other items.