The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has thrown its weight behind the efforts to re-integrate beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. Stating its willingness to contribute to the success of the programme, the Acting Managing Director of the commission, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said that the NDDC was by law expected to forge strategic partnerships for the purpose of developing the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC boss, who stated this, while receiving the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brigadier General Paul Boroh (rtd) and his team at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, said that partnerships were critical for driving sustainable development.
Mrs. Semenitari commended the efforts being made by the Federal Government, through the amnesty programme, to move Niger Deltans from just being hewers of wood to people who would have respectable and sustainable means of livelihood. “We need to teach our people to fish because we are a region of proud people who want to earn honest living. We cannot continue to allow ourselves to be defined by the challenges of the past,” she said.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer assured the coordinator of the amnesty programme that the NDDC would key into the re-integration programme for the benefit of the youths, noting that development in the Niger Delta would be stalled if the former agitators were not fully re-integrated. She remarked: “The Chinese say that as long as your neighbour is hungry, your chicken is not safe. So, if Nigeria wants its chicken to be safe, it must address the problem of poverty that is bedeviling the country. We need to develop a template that would enable the country to engage the rural poor, so as to move the country from poverty to wealth.
Earlier, Brig. Gen. Boroh (rtd) said that his assignment was to ensure that the peace already established after the introduction of the Presidential Amnesty was sustained by properly re-integrating the 30, 000 youths captured in the programme. “We want to re-integrate the ex-agitators to the society in a seamless manner. They have all been trained in various skills and they are ready to be reabsorbed into the economic mainstream of the Niger Delta,” he said.
The coordinator said that the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari remained committed to peace and sustainable development of the Niger Delta region. To achieve this, however, he said there was need for all stakeholders, including the international community to join in the effort.
He further said that collaborating with the critical agencies of government and the private sector would help harness available trained manpower under the programme for placements in various establishments.
Also speaking, Mr. Kester Tawari, the Head, Post-Training Engagement and Empowerment, said that 13,000 youths had been trained in special areas such as aviation, marine, professional welding and technicians for the oil and gas sector. He added that between 15,000 and 17,000 youths were still undergoing training.