Abuja—The Interim administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Major General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd) has attributed the high number of unemployed trained ex-agitators to the lack of required job competencies, Liberator news reports.
He stated that the training of the ex-agitators did not produce the required expertise, hence many of them end up unemployed.
Ndiomu made this known when he paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Jideofor Kwusike Onyeama, in his office in Abuja.
In his remarks during the visit, the PAP boss averted that“oftentimes these category of people end up constituting nuisance to the society because they are not employed and so we continue to hear the incidence of pipeline vandalization and other things for which the programme was established to ensure that they do not go back into those type of activities.
“Just as you likened it to some UN peacekeeping operations that probably have outlived the period of their existence, we suffer the same.
“As a matter of fact, from my own assessment, the Presidential Amnesty Programme has completely derailed from its original objectives and probably because of that frustration that the government thought of going ahead to wipe it out.
“Unfortunately, as you said, there were no clear-cut deliverables. The data was badly managed. We have set up several audit teams to actually determine the number of ex-agitators that we have, those that have been trained and those that have not been trained and empowered.
“Am sure you must have read about the present administration delisting some of these ex-agitators who from our records have been trained and empowered and we felt it is tantamount to an abuse for these same individuals, even when they are gainfully employed to be receiving stipends.”
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The PAP boss who revealed that he is working towards repositioning the programme, also stated that an earlier directive by the federal government for about 350 ex-agitators to be employed, was not effected.
According to him, he has already taken it up with the Head of Service of the Civil Service of the Federation.
Ndiomu who premised his visit to the minister on the cordial relationship between the PAP and the foreign affairs ministry expressed gratitude to the minister for the support so far.
“Your ministry has been responsible for assisting us with our consular activities in relation to deployment of students overseas and payment of their school fees, ensuring their welfare and more recently, the Ukraine/Russian war.
“I would like to thank the Honourable Ministry for the support you provided for our students at the time of the crisis in Ukraine and they were successfully evacuated.
“We are most grateful. There is much more this ministry has done to aid our activities. Whenever we have foreign engagements, your officials assist us with our visa requirements and we have not had any hindrances whatsoever and I said that is very important that I visit you to express our gratitude.
“At the time I was appointed, my mandate was to wind down the programme. I engaged the stakeholders by visiting individuals and talking to different categories of classes of people, the ex-agitators themselves, traditional institutions and the leaders across the Niger Delta region and it became apparent that they were certainly not prepared for any abrupt truncation of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, ”he said.
He stated that he found out in the cause of his engagement that most of the objectives for which the programme was established had not been realized.
Ndiomu revealed that he had to return to government to advise them accordingly, considering the volatility of the region coupled with the fact that elections are fast approaching and the present position of the oil and gas sector.
His words: “it wouldn’t have been advisable to aggravate the tension that was beginning to arise in the region so I had to recommend and fortunately government offered listening ears and that decision has been suspended for now.
“But what we are trying to do also is to reposition the programme in such a way that we can now move gradually towards exiting the ex-agitators who have been captured by ensuring that they are trained; for those that have the capacity to be trained.
“For those without the capacity to be trained, we are looking at some form of empowerment through vocational training institutions and partnering with international donor agencies like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), so that we can get them positively engaged and that will also keep them away from the violence that we normally experience across the Niger Delta and hopefully, it will keep our pipelines secure once they have something to do.
“That is where we are at the moment, putting our thoughts together, trying to carve out a new vision and a new direction for the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“I want to once again thank you for responding to our request very quickly and I want to also seize this opportunity to condole you for the loss of your brother. He was a very renowned Nigerian. I have had very personal knowledge of him since I was a child. May his soul rest in peace.”
Responding, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who extolled the leadership qualities of the Ndiomu emphasized the need for an interface between the PAP and the development agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“The interphase with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the development work that they are doing and how that impacts also on the ex-agitators, and in particular, where the gaps have been in achieving the objectives of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“Why I am particularly interested in that is that I have a UN background, especially in peacekeeping.
“And I know some of the areas where the UN has intervened in peacekeeping and managing the transition process and after a while, it develops a life of its own and you actually never end up achieving the peace and so this is something I have been extremely worried about and to really have a very clear sense of what the concrete deliverables are and the timelines for achieving them and very clear exit path that you need to go through, otherwise, it can be a never-ending process.
“It is interesting to learn that you recommend and the President approved extending the programme. We need to quickly move away from that dependency syndrome as a country and have that mindset of ultimately wanting to be self-reliant and to develop a sustainable means of development and growth. That is why I was asking about the interface with the NDDC
“It is also important to have a mechanism that works in terms of looking after students outside the country because we have had a lot of problems, not necessarily with this particular programme (Presidential Amnesty Programme) but with other scholarships, ”he said.
The minister thanked Ndiomu for his service to the country and also congratulated him on his appointment as the Interim Administrator of the PAP.