Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nigerian Militants Reject Presidential Rehabilitation Plans

Ex-militants Reject Presidential Rehabilitation Plans

From Ahamefula Ogbu in Port Harcourt, 01.25.2010
Nigerian Thisday

Key militants in the Niger Delta under the aegis of Joint Revolutionary Council yesterday evening rose from a meeting called to take a position on the rehabilitation plans of the Presidential Committee on Amnesty and rejected it, saying it is favouring only the consultants and therefore against the interest of real freedom fighters.

They also pointed out that a tour of the rehabilitation centres in Bayelsa, Port Harcourt and Uyo, Akwa Ibom State were seen as sub-standard and lacking in facilities to equip their boys, who have dropped their arms with skills to reintegrate into the society.

Other factors that led to the rejection of the rehabilitation plans, according to the spokesperson of the JRC, Cynthia Whyte, are that in spite of the rehabilitation plans announced by the federal government, a large number of Niger Delta youths were still in detention, which amounted to double standard of pursuing peace and war at the same time.

They are also contesting their numerical strength, which the Presidential Committee on Amnesty put at 20,000, saying it was over bloated and called for verifications from the militant leaders on the number of their followers.

They further contended that trades in oil and gas were relegated in the PCA work plan while training centres were mere shades that lacked the capacity to train their youths.

Whyte recalled that all poverty reduction and eradication efforts of the government were colossal failures and not to be trusted and warned against the government making another failure of the rehabilitation efforts.

JRC commended the Niger Delta Development Commi-ssion (NDDC) for providing palliatives for the ex-militants while they pressed for support of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan whose non violent disposition nearly put him at loggerheads with freedom fighters in the past.

A summary of their stand is follows:

*In spite of the declaration of amnesty, a large number of Niger Delta youths are still in detention. This shows a double standard position of peace and war.

*That more orientation and training camps be set up across the Niger Delta preferably in places like Cross Rivers State with large acres of virgin which can be equipped and transformed with temporary structures to contain the large numbers of trainees.

*The institutions recommended by the PCA for training are a sham. Almost all of them are ill-equipped, non-accredited and non recognised.

*We believe that the current stated numbers (20,000) of those who have accepted amnesty is far over blown. Current numbers should be verified from leaders of agitating groups.

*Oil and gas training was not given adequate mention in the PCA work plan.

*All training centres endorsed for training must have at least a National Accreditation that gives it authority to award appropriately recognized certificates which are acceptable at all levels of employment, and

*World class oil and gas training centres such as Petro-Skills, Univation and Maritime Academy Oron should be co-opted to assist in the development of oil and gas training programmes.

“We are aware that the Godwin Abbe-led PCA has accepted the recommendations and observations of the sub-committee. We hope this acceptance will be true and honest,” the statement said.

Contacted on telephone, however, some key militants who were contacted by THISDAY said they were not informed about the meeting but later confirmed that the Spokesperson of the JRC was in attendance.

Some other militants like Leader of the Niger Delta Vigilante Movement, Chief Ateke Tom and his second-in-command could not be reached on phone as their handsets were switched off while General Toru did not pick his calls.

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