About 186 former Niger Delta militants trained under the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) at the weekend departed the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos for South Africa, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland for educational and vocational training.
This batch of delegates brings to 16,683 the number of ex-militants so far sent for offshore and local training in educational and vocational fields since the programme started in 2010 by the former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Of the 186 delegates, 60 will undergo a 12-month vocational training in South Africa as emergency medical technicians otherwise known as “offshore medic,” while the other 126 will undergo educational training in tertiary institutions in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Speaking before their departure in Lagos, Special Adviser on Niger Delta Matters, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, said the batch was the single largest to be deployed for educational training in the UK, which he described as a unique feat.
Kuku, who admonished the delegates to be good ambassadors of Nigeria by abiding by the laws of the host countries where they are undergoing training, said the PAP for youths in the Niger Delta now had zero tolerance for misconduct as over 690 delegates had so far been repatriated and reprimanded for embarrassment they had brought to the programme.
He added that about 1,359 youths from the region had been sent for local vocational training programmes in 2013, even as he affirmed that another batch of 1,303 this year had been deployed for offshore vocational training.
Kuku said about 341 youths under the re-integration phase of the amnesty programme “have so far been deployed this year for educational training at various institutions including Alabama State University, Nelson Mandela University, Liverpool International College, Anglia, Ruskin University, University of Liverpool, International College of Portsmouth and Brunel University.”
He listed the countries where the ex-militants “are undergoing offshore vocational training to include: France, South Africa , India, Trinandad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Ghana, Italy and Malaysia.”
In the area of post-training engagement, Kuku said about 2,000 delegates “were being empowered with business start up packages, while 174 had been offered direct employment in various public and private onshore-offshore organisations. About 1,190 women have been placed in specialised skill acquisition centres even as some were being processed for empowerment set up.”
Kuku said some of the aviation delegates were being engaged as aviation instructors in some training centres abroad. He said the amnesty office “is currently engaging professional organisations for procurement of vocational skills basic start up equipment for trainees who have completed various vocational courses in areas of music production, cinematography, fashion designing, photography, welding and deep ocean diving.
He listed the key focus areas to of training “to include aviation, maritime, oil and gas, power telecoms, construction, and others. The amnesty programme had assisted to stabilise oil export for the country and has brought lasting peace to the Niger Delta, and the oil and gas environment is now stable. This programme has accelerated the increase in crude oil export.
“This is one of the indigenous programmes that have brought peace for the region. Over 2,000 delegates are in 23 countries pursuing educational programmes all over the world,” Kuku explained.
Information from This Day was used in this report.