Kingsley Kuku: Post amnesty Programme May End 2013

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The post-amnesty programme instituted by the Federal Government for ex-militants in the Niger Delta region may end in 2013, instead of 2015 when it was originally planned to end.
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, made the disclosure yesterday in Lagos at a pre-departure ceremony for 146 ex-militants who were travelling overseas for studies under the programme.
He said the change in time-table was informed by the speedy way the programme was moving and the response of the former militants.
He said the Federal Govern-ment was sending the present batch of 146 ex- militants from the Niger Delta for university education in South Africa and Belarus for a five-year programme at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa and Belarusian State University.
The ex-militants, he said, would study electrical engineering, computer engineering, petro-chemical engineering and radio informatics, as well as mass communication, biological sciences, physics, chemistry and Mathematics. He disclosed that among the 164 ex- militants, 47 were billed for a year vocational training programme in Italy in marine mechanics and boat building.
The delegates to Italy are the first batch to secure visas into Western Europe. Other delegates have been sent to Russia for formal education. Belarus is in Eastern Europe.
The departure of the 164 ex- militants from the Niger Delta under the post-amnesty programmes is part of capacity building to empower youths from the region and fill the gap in manpower needs of the country.
Kuku explained that the batch going to Italy  were the first batch to be sent to  Western Europe, even as he called on the youths to be of good behaviour to enable  other countries grant visas to their colleagues billed for other countries.
Kuku also handed over 164 laptops designed to meet the trainee needs of the ex-militants to assist them cope with their training.
He explained that the lingering agitation of some youths in the Niger Delta region to be enlisted in the amnesty programme had become apparent because of the lingering poverty in the country, even he called on respective state and local governments to design empowerment programmes for their indigenes as one of the ways of bridging the gap in youth unemployment across the country.
The empowerment programme for youths under the Federal Government Amnesty
programmes comes just as government warned that it will  not tolerate any act of indiscipline on the part of the ex- militants during their training abroad, such  that will tarnish the reputation of the country.
Government  he said it will not  hesitate to  withdraw from the programme any youth who engage in any act of misbehaviour including attack on trainers, drug abuse and other attitude that will derail the course of the programme.
Describing the programme as a revolution in the Niger Delta  region, Kuku explained that the last time such youth empowerment programme was witnessed was during the Chief Obafemi Awolowo regime, when youths from the region  were sent abroad for formal education as the future of socio- economic development for the region.
Also speaking at the pre- departure ceremony in Lagos, a Niger Delta activist, Comrade Joseph Eva, urged the youth to make the best use of the opportunity  offered by the amnesty programme, which will bring about the radical  transformation of the Niger Delta region.
By Davidson Iriekpen

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