In just four years of its implementation, Nigeria?s home-grown Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reinte?gration (DDR) component of the Presidential Amnesty Pro?gramme, under which 30,000 for?mer agitators in the oil-rich Ni?ger Delta region were enlisted, has attracted global recognition and applause.
wpid-Amnesty20International20Logo.jpgThis is against the backdrop of similar United Nations-pilot?ed DDR interventions in Africa, some of which were initiated since 1992 but have yet to attain full demobilization despite ro?bust financial and technical as?sistance from the world body and other international partners.
The programme in Nigeria under the leadership of Hon. Kingsley Kuku is at the criti?cal reintegration phase with 13,145 youths already graduated in various skills acquisition fields while 4,698 are currently undergoing skills acquisition training or formal education within and outside the country in career choices ranging from marine, heavy duty operations, welding, diving, agriculture and boat building. Others include oil and gas technicians, automobile technology and aviation.
Among the 13,145 youths who have graduated from vocational training are 169 in Agriculture; Automobile Mechanics (331), Welding & Fabrication (4,095), Entrepreneurship (2,028), Car?pentry, Plumbing & Pipefitting {287), Electrical Installation/Maintenance (442), Information & Communication Technology (249), Crane/Heavy Duty Opera?tions (1,269), Health Safety & En?vironment (80), Music/Fashion/Entertainment/Catering (838), Oil &Gas/Maritime (1,768), Avia?tion (177) and others (310).
A total of 2,535 of the 4,698 currently in training are in for?mal education, with 1,440 dele?gates offshore and 1,095 onshore, studying courses such as Law, Political Science, Business Man?agement, Mass Communication, International Relations, Public Administration, Accountancy, Information & Communications Technology, Medicine, Engi?neering, Applied Sciences, Ra?dio Electronics, Building & Con?struction Technology, among others.
In the same vein, 477 youths out of 2087 delegates deployed for vocational training are off?shore, of which 110 are engaged in specialized training. These include 22 at the prestigious Luf?thansa Flight Training Institute in Frankfurt, Germany, under?going Instrument Rating, Type Rating and Fixed Wings courses; 9 at the CAE Oxford Aviation Academy, Kinglington, United Kingdom, also participating in aviation Type Rating courses; 30 being trained in Power Gen?eration & Management Process/Machine Management at Schnei?der Electric in France; 40 study?ing Geo-Sciences, Reservoir Engineering, Gas Exploration, Production, Refining, Engines and Hydrocarbon Utilizations, at the Institute of French Petro?leum (IFP], also in France, and 9 undergoing helicopter train?ing at the Airstar Flight School, Italy. Remarkably, 29 of the 139 delegates deployed for special?ized training have graduated in Drilling Engineering at Schlum?berger Technologies in Melun, France.
The delegates in training are spread across 153 universities, 22 skill acquisition training in?stitutions in 28 countries, while onshore they are in six universi?ties, including the Benson Ida?hosa University, Igbinedion Uni?versity, Novena University, Lead City University, Niger Delta University, and Redeemers Uni?versity. Delegates in vocational training within the country are spread across 19 training insti?tutions in eight states.
Indeed, the success story of the amnesty programme is bol?stered by spectacular feats in the education and aviation sec?tors, with 138 delegates graduat?ing with Masters, Post-Graduate and First Degrees. A breakdown of the figure shows that 43 grad?uated with M.Sc, MBA, M.Sc En?gineering and LLM at Coventry University, and 3 at Portsmouth University in the United King?dom.
Others are Cranfield Uni?versity (1); BPP University (7); Salford University (3); Brad?ford University (1); University of Liverpool (2); University of Manchester (1); University of Reading (1); University of New?castle (1); University of Swansea (13); Anglia Ruskin University (4); Murdoch University (6), and
Linton University College (53). Apart from the last two universi?ties which are located in Dubai and Malaysia respectively, the other 12 institutions are based in the United Kingdom.
Six of the 53 students who graduated from Linton Universi?ty, Malaysia, were awarded First Class Degrees in their respective courses, just as 24 of the 40 stu?dents deployed to the Alabama State University, USA, made the Honours? Roll by scoring a CGPA of 3.5 and above in their first se?mester examinations, a feat that was also achieved by 10 of the 21 students deployed to the Ala?bama A&M University in USA too.
Other milestones in the educa?tion sector included the place?ment of 180 students with the Kaplan International College, Lagos, and 50 students with Westfield College, also in Lagos for foundation pathway pro?grammes, and the deployment of two students to the University of Victoria and Ottawa Univer?sity of Canada, both in Canada.
Interestingly, 160 of the 180 students placed on foundation training with Kaplan Interna?tional Colleges graduated on May 19, 2014, and have com?menced undergraduate studies in various courses in the United Kingdom and USA. The foun?dation training, tagged United States Pathway Programme (USPP), was localized for the Ni?ger Delta youths by the Kaplan International Colleges, United States, to enable them undergo the foundation programme in Nigeria preparatory to depar?ture overseas for their degree programmes. 138 of the students have commenced their educa?tion in science, management and the arts in 10 universities in the United States while the remaining 22 will start their programme next month at the Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom.
?Some 180 students started the (foundation) programme; 160 are progressing to the uni?versity, which is 89 per cent progression rate. We are so fas?cinated that we got 100 per cent visa acceptance. We started late and had to play catch-up. We had classes through March and April, sometimes up to 10pm. The students had all these chal?lenges, yet came out successful,? Mr. Guy Doughty, Principal of the Kaplan International Col?lege, Lagos, said during their graduation ceremony at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos.
Cognizant of the pedigree of institutions the students were offered admission and the ante?cedents of previous beneficia?ries of the special scholarship scheme, Nigeria?s Deputy Sen?ate Leader, Senator Abdul Ningi, who chaired the occasion, was visibly elated, as he appealed to authorities of the United King?dom and the USA to allow the students return home at the end of their studies to enable them contribute positively to national development.
?We know that in America, wherever you see young people that are good, you call unto them. Please do not call unto these ones; they are all we have. When they finish, let them come back. Train them well and we will continue to fund this pro?gramme,? he assured.
Perhaps, the success story of the amnesty programme echoes louder in the aviation sector. From the creeks of Nigeria?s oil-rich but impoverished Niger Delta region, the sky is now do?main for 127 youths currently undergoing training in the avia?tion sector. They comprise pilots for airplane, helicopter, and del?egates for aviation maintenance engineering in five reputable training institutions, namely: Jetstream Aviation Academy, Athens, Greece; Royal Jordani?an Air Academy in Jordan; CAE Aviation Academy, Oxford, England; Lufthansa Flight Training Institute, Frankfurt, Ger?many, and the Fujairah Aviation Academy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. ?
In fact, 30 of the 127 delegates who had already possessed the Private Pilot License (PPL) and Commercial Pilot License (CPL) are presently undergoing Jet/Type Rating courses at the Luf?thansa Pilot Training Institute and CAE Aviation Academy, with a view to enhancing their career opportunities.
?We are in a hurry to dominate Nigeria?s airspace, and this can be achieved after our graduation from Jet/Type Rating courses. Presently, about 65 per cent of pi?lots flying in Nigeria are foreign?ers. So, we will be able to secure jobs in Nigeria since a lot of air?lines are springing up. We are overwhelmed with joy because the Amnesty Programme is a huge success; it has produced its first female pilot, it has worked marvelously. We are now role models to others,? said Bassey Henshaw.
Focused and determined to keep the flag flying, Hon. Kuku, the man driving the wheel of progress at the Amnesty Office, crowns it all: ?We have done our bit. The mandate of my office is to give you first-class train?ing and to ensure you secure globally acceptable pilot certifi?cations. We have achieved this mandate with the full support of our dear President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. However, I wish to as?sure you that after your jet/type-rating programme, you will not have problems securing gainful employment in Nigeria, given the sweeping reforms currently going on in the nation?s aviation sector.?
On April 13, 2013, in Johan?nesburg, South Africa, the Chief Executive Officer of the Afrika Union Aviation Academy, Capt. Allan Roebuck, poured encomi?ums on 16 delegates who gradu?ated from the institution. He said they all completed 37 flying procedures to merit the award of Commercial Pilot License. ?As you are decorated as com?mercial pilots, your career has just started; it is a long road to success? With the certificate, they can work anywhere in the world as commercial pilots be?cause the aviation industry is a global brand,? said Roebuck.
In terms of post-training engagement, the Amnesty Of?fice has developed various ini?tiatives with the creation of a full-fledged Post Training De?partment headed by a former Deputy Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Freeman Mologe. Among others, 151 delegates who trained in Electrical, Mechatronics, Specialized Welding, Marine, Underwater Welding, Oil & Gas Drilling, and Pipeline Welding, have gained employment in about seven companies, including the Transmission Company of Nigeria; Samsung Electron?ics, Century Group, Samsung Heavy Industries, Bradama International Skill Works, and Todco Res.
Also, 50 Welding & Fabrica?tion delegates were offered em?ployment by the Proclad Group, Dubai, UAE, on completion of their training programme with the institution, just as 49 dele?gates trained in Marine Mechan?ics at Scuola Edile Genovese, It?aly, have been engaged, while 14 delegates trained in Mechatron?ics and Welding were employed by Samsung Electronics.
Besides, a total of 3,250 del?egates are currently undergoing Business Set-Up under the en?trepreneurship scheme. Several other youths trained under the amnesty programme have been recruited and commissioned into the Nigerian armed forces and paramilitary services.
Instructively, beyond the gains recorded in the area of human capital development, the suc?cess of the amnesty programme would not be fully appreciated without a peep into the eco?nomic impact of the Niger Delta crisis pre- and post-2009, when the late President Umaru Musa Yar?Adua proclaimed amnesty for the armed agitators. At the peak of the crisis, production and construction firms which were working in the area, in?cluding Wilbros, Michelin, Ju?lius Berger as well as small and medium scale enterprises laid off their workers in the Niger Delta and pulled out of the re?gion, a situation that led to the stalling of the East-West Road project for over two years. These had disastrous consequences on the nation and its citizens as sev?eral other multinational compa?nies relocated not only from the area but also from Nigeria.
The country lost billions of naira that would have accrued from oil revenue to the Federa?tion Account, even as Oil and Gas companies which remained in the region with a resolve to weather the storm were com?pelled to cough out a whopping $3billion annually to secure their facilities and installa?tions, as critical infrastructure, especially pipelines, became targets for serial attacks. Again, this propelled the slamming of an outrageous $90million per annum premium Marine War Risk Insurance for cargo into Nigeria.
Thus, the circumstances lead?ing to the proclamation and implementation of the amnesty programme is a story of corpo?rate, communal and individual losses, pain, agony and eventual reprieve. It is a tale of lost bil?lions of US Dollars in oil reve?nue, spilled blood, kidnappings, lost opportunities, and the battle to restore hope, peace and secu?rity in the Niger Delta through efficient and effective manage?ment of the programme.
Four years on, the amnesty programme has no doubt en?throned a new dawn in Nigeria?s socio-political and economic realm. It is a success story that will remain evergreen in nation?al and global history.

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