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SLOW PACE OF AMNESTY PROGRAMME

By NBF News
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Permit me a space in your widely read newspaper to express my view on the very slow pace at which the training of ex-militants is moving. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Amnesty Programme designed for former militants who have surrendered their arms has gone a long way in entrenching peace in the Niger Delta region. But, I want to state very clearly that the amnesty office controlled by Kingsley Kuku has not done much in terms of the training programme for the erstwhile militants.

I believe that the earlier we train the former militants and get them reintegrated into the society, the better for us. Especially, if we do not want us to return to the dark days of militancy in the Niger Delta. These militants have done their part in the amnesty arrangement, and I think it will be appropriate for the government to play its part well too.

For the Amnesty Office to be boasting of training of only about 4000 of the over 26, 000 ex-militants registered for the exercise three years after the amnesty programme was introduced, does not show any commitment on its part.. Kuku and his team should be able to identify as many as possible firms within and outside the country to fast-track the training of these boys. This is very important so that they do not think of going back to the creeks.

Recently, we have seen some ex-militants threatening to go back to the creek. These threats are coming because a lot of them felt they are being abandoned in the scheme. How long do you continue to keep somebody who decided to drop his arm for peace to reign supreme waiting to be trained for skill acquisition? Delay, they say, is dangerous!

If Kuku cannot effectively handle the training programme for the former militants, I think it will be wise for him to resign immediately, so that a more capable hand can be allowed to take over the position. I really do not see what he has done to deserve the kind of commendation and encomium some people are pouring on him.

The other day Kuku was saying that the amnesty programme has not failed while countering a publication in the media, which claimed that the programme has been a total failure.

Well, I may not agree totally that the programme is a failure. But I think Kuku is the one that has failed to take the programme to the level it should be. By now, more ex-militants should have been trained.

I am asking the Federal Government and the National Assembly to tell the Amnesty Office to wake up from slumber and show more commitment to the training of the ex-militants. Otherwise, Kuku should be shown the way out. In fact, his amnesty office needs to be probed. He needs to tell us why the programme is moving at this very slow pace despite the huge amount of money that has been provided so far for the project.

Chukwudi writes from Port Harcourt