Friday, October 21, 2011

Scorecard for amnesty programme in Niger Delta

20 October 2011

Inscribed on the T-shirts sported by most officials at the post-amnesty Camp in Obubra, Cross River is the phrase: ‘Amnesty Works'.

The inscription aptly reflects the popular sentiment that the amnesty programme, initiated by the federal government for ex-militants of the resource-rich Niger Delta region, has been largely successful.

On October 4, it was exactly two years since the inception of the programme, conceived by late President Umaru Yar'Adua, to address youth restiveness in the region.

The militants of the region had provoked serious security breaches, while dislocating the nation's crude oil exploration and exports.

Their restiveness, they claimed arose from the perceived neglect of their region for decades by successive governments, despite the fact that the bulk of the nation's wealth was derived from there. Also, they decried environmental degradation of the enclave, which deprived the people of any sustainable means of livelihood.

Over the years, the region lost some of its prominent sons in the struggle for enhanced development of the region, among them were Isaac Adaka Boro and Ken Saro-Wiwa; the latter of who utilized peaceful advocacy to advance his objectives.

In 2009, however, late President Umaru Yar'Adua announced amnesty for all militants who voluntarily laid down their arms within a specified period of time. The deal paid off as thousands of militants responded by renouncing violence and surrendering their arms and ammunition to the government.

As a follow up to the offer, a rehabilitation programme for the ex-militants took off, while the federal government initiated other measures to bring development to the region.

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