FG to engage ex-militants in food production
TO sustain the gains of the amnesty scheme, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Brigadier-General Paul Boroh (rtd), has said that some beneficiaries have been encouraged to take to agriculture, especially the cassava value chain, in a coordinated effort to get youths in the region to look beyond oil.
Brig. Gen. Boroh, who said this in Lagos at the Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE) cassava investment forum, maintained that the scheme has equipped ex-agitators with skills and expertise that would help attract investment to the region, and ensure that youths stay engaged either as entrepreneurs or experienced employees.
Represented by Kenneth Ehigie, Boroh commended the development partners, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Department of international Development (DFID), and other organisations that have shown interest and partnered to drive development in the Niger Delta.
He said, “The Amnesty programme is in its final and crucial phase, which is the sustainable integration of 10,000 agitators. Hostage taking has stopped and oil production has increased from a miserable 700,000 to 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd), resulting in increased revenue for the federal government. So far, 17,000 ex-agitators have graduated from formal and informal vocational colleges. 2500 of them have been empowered and set up as entrepreneurs, while another 400 are gainfully employed and are doing well. This process is on going with job placement and empowerment in cassava production and value-chain.”
Lauding President Muhammadu Buhari for sustaining the Amnesty programme, as well as, other initiatives in the Niger Delta, which include the clean up of Ogoniland, rehabilitation of Port Harcourt and Warri refineries and flag off of the Calabar-Katsina highway, he said that these well-co-ordinated multiple efforts are geared towards positioning the region for investment and job creation.
“The states in the region are also committed to leveraging agriculture, as mainstay for their economy, especially developing the cassava value-chain. The region has a motivated and highly skilled people courtesy of the Amnesty programme,” he added.
He said it was good that the initiative was focusing on cassava, a wonder crop, that is a mainstay of the Nigerian people, adding that Nigeria produces more than 45 million tonnes of cassava, making it the largest producer of the product in the world.
According to him, “Out of the eight states that produce the products, Delta, Edo, Cross River and Imo, all in the Niger Delta, account for over 60 per cent of the Nigerian total. The Amnesty Programme was initiated to integrate over 30,000 agitators. It is in its sixth year, and has widely achieved its core objectives. The programme has been a success and has ensured peace in the region, as well as, guaranteed uninterrupted flow of oil. It is now a stable region for agriculture.”
“However, the programme is in its final stage and the winding up process has started. My office will continue to appraise and articulate the situation on ground in order to stable a secured environment, abating a possible reoccurrence of militancy, engage youths and encourage interaction to assure all of a peaceful environment for investment. There is need for investors to partner with the programme to boost cassava production in the Niger Delta region. This would not only provide jobs in the area, but also ensure proper reintegration of ex-agitators.”