By Ndubuisi Francis
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and Chairman of the Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku, Friday raised the alarm over the possible resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta.
He challenged the governors in the Niger Delta region, multinationals, development partners and other stakeholders in the region to evolve development projects that would address the yearnings of the people in the area.
The presidential aide spoke while receiving the director, African Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, Mrs. Desiree Bonis, in his office in Abuja.
Kuku lamented that recent developments leading to some violent activities in the region did not bode well for the region in particular and the nation in general, adding that the signs were dangerous.
According to him, there was an erroneous belief in some quarters that the amnesty programme was meant to address development projects in the region, a situation which, he said, had made some development stakeholders to become reluctant to assist.
He said the programme was meant to disarm, demobilise and re-integrate ex-militants who dropped their arms and embraced amnesty.
Kuku said the international oil companies and other multinationals were not doing enough to build the trust and confidence of the local communities in which they operate.
He said it’s regrettable that oil companies do not deem it necessary to extend social amenities like electricity and water supply to their host communities while such companies live in opulence in contrast to the squalor of the communities was bound to elicit negative reactions from the latter.
Kuku, who was peeved by what he considered an unfair handling of trainees under the Amnesty Programme by the multinational oil companies, threatened to withdraw the trainees being subjected to inappropriate vocational training.
According to him, the oil firms, under the Oil and Gas Industry Foundation (OGIF), a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) set up to coordinate the support package of the oil and gas industry for the purpose of strategically contributing to the reintegration of the transformed ex-militants of the amnesty programme, had opted to train 3,000 of the about 27,000 ex-militants.
However, Kuku regretted that rather than train the 3,000 ex-militants it requested as artisans relevant to oil operations, information at his disposal was that many of them were inconsisting training as tailors and other fields that were incongruent with what was initially intended, threatening to withdraw them from the OGIF.
He admonished the multinationals to have a change of attitude towards the local communities in which they operate, adding that if the communities were meant to believe that there was hope for them, they would support the companies thereby bringing incidences of vandalism of oil facilities to the barest level.
Kuku also decried the manner in which the European Union (EU) and other development partners distribute social projects meant for Nigeria, noting that while Niger Delta communities were usually not considered, such projects were cited in Lagos and some areas in the northern parts of the country.
He warned that if the governors in the region, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the oil companies, and other stakeholders in the region did not rise up to the occasion and cement the existing peace in the region, a possible throw-back to the pre-Amnesty era was imminent.
He also noted that the current isolated cases of violence in the region was occasioned by agitations by some elements who wanted to be included in the amnesty programme, noting that the programme was not elastic and open-ended such that it would not have a final phase.
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