Against reservations being expressed in some quarters concerning the Presidential Amnesty Programme, RACHAEL ABUJAH examines the success recorded so far by the
programme initiated by the Yar’adua/Jonathan administration

President Goodluck Jonathan will
on May 29 conclude his tenure
as the President of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria, while retired
Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari
will be sworn-in as the new
president. Observers, however,
note that one of the major
achievements of the outgoing
president is the Presidential
Amnesty Programme put in
place for ex-militants in the Niger-
Delta area.
They note that the programme,
which was initiated during the
late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s
administration, has played
pivotal roles in stabilising the
region and helping the country to
increase its crude oil production.
Jonathan, while speaking at the
graduation ceremony of the last
batch of the ex-militants at the
Amnesty Camp in Obubra, Cross
River, said that he was happy with
the outcome of the Presidential
Amnesty Programme.
He attributed the buoyancy of
the Nigerian economy to the
relative success of the amnesty
programme initiated for
repentant restive youths of the
Niger Delta region. He noted that
the country’s oil production now
stood between 2.6 million and 2.8
million barrels per day, attributing
this to the effectiveness of the
amnesty initiative.
Jonathan recalled that in 2008
alone, the nation lost about N3
trillion during the peak of the
activities of the Niger Delta
militants, adding that the current
high oil production in the country
signified the success of the
amnesty programme. “It got to a
point where Nigeria’s oil exports
dwindled to as low as 800, 000
bpd, compared with a targeted
2.2 million bpd for the first
quarter of 2009. In 2008 alone,
it was estimated that Nigeria
lost over N3 trillion as a result of
militancy in the Niger Delta,” he
The president noted that
the amnesty programme
and the determination of his
administration facilitated the
restoration of peace and security
in the area, saying that peace
as a sine qua non for national
development. “It is when we live
in peace as a united nation that we
can feed our teeming population,
tackle unemployment and
confront head-on infrastructural
challenges,” he said.
Observers note that a lot of the exmilitants
have undergone skills’
acquisition training, while others
were sent to schools abroad
for programmes that will turn
them into useful and productive
citizens. The Amnesty Office
says that 4,149 ex- militants have
been trained and placed in skills’
acquisition centres or enrolled for
formal education in Nigeria.
Besides, the office says that
20,192 ex-militants have undergone
disarmament and demobilisation
training, while they have been fully
re-integrated into the civil society.
Another set of 6,616 ex-militants
have also undergone non-violence
training in Obubra under the
second phase of the Amnesty
Programme, it added.
Mr Kingsley Kuku, Special
Adviser to the President on
Niger Delta matters, said that excombatants
are making the best
use of the opportunities which the
programme provided for them.
He, however, warned that undue
politicisation of the Presidential
Amnesty Programme could
jeopardise the achievements of the
programme, underscoring the need
to sustain the programme for the
peace and stability of the nation.
“The programme is not political;
rather it is a programme that is
critical to the economic survival
of Nigeria; it should not be
swept away by any government,
irrespective of the party in power,”
he said. Kuku said that the amnesty
programme had rendered credible
and selfless services to the people
of Niger Delta; adding that it had
particularly promoted peace and
stability in the region and the nation
at large.
He explained that the programme
was established to formulate,
coordinate and execute the
development programmes which
the Federal Government put in
place for the Niger Delta region.
Kuku called on President-elect
Buhari to sustain the amnesty
initiative because of its usefulness
in efforts to ensure peace in the
He, however, said that he had
received the assurance of some key
members of the All Progressives
Congress (APC) that the
programme would be sustained
by the incoming government. “The
amnesty programme is one of the
major reasons for the reduction
of criminality, kidnapping, oil
bunkering and other vices in the
Niger Delta,
“I am sure that the president-elect
will not want to take us back to that
era of insecurity in the region; I am
certain that he wants peace for the
entire country,” he said.
Kuku stressed that most of the
30,000 youths of the Niger Delta
area, who had undergone various
skills’ acquisition training in
different skills, had become the
breadwinners of their families.
“They are now gainfully employed
and they are taking care of their
families. Some of them have since
returned from Italy where they
had gone to learn cookery and
the Italians retained 15 of the 40
ex-militants who went for the
training,” he said.
Kuku said that the specific focus of
the amnesty programme in 2015
was on maritime training, adding
that more than 1,300 ex-militants
were studying different courses in
Nigerian universities. He said that
the youths were encouraged to get
fully involved in the programme so
as to enable them to partake in the
area’s development efforts, while
developing themselves.
“Thousands of the beneficiaries
of the amnesty programme have
been placed in globally renowned
schools to pursue formal education.
They have also acquired first-class
training in reputable institutions
and facilities, particularly those
outside the country. Some of
them have become underwater
engineers, commercial marine
divers, crane operators, aircraft
pilots and seafarers. Others have
also become marine engineers,
marine mechanics, auto mechanics,
boat builders, safety and health
officers, oil and gas drillers and ICT
specialists”, he said.
Kuku reiterated that the amnesty
programme had transformed lives
of the ex-militants, saying: “I hope
the incoming government will not
tamper with the laudable projects of
the programme.”
He said that if the programme
was tampered with, thousands of
lives would be negatively affected,
while such action would not augur
well for the country’s security. I
know the incoming government
is quite aware of where we are
coming from; we are coming from
a situation where we produced a
meagre 685,000 barrels of oil per
day in May 2008.
“Today, we produce between 2.2
million barrels and 2.6 million
barrels per day,” he said.
In a nutshell, Kuku said that more
than 19, 112 ex-agitators had
received training in universities or
vocational skills’ acquisition centres
within and outside the country.
He noted that 14,596 of them
had successfully completed their
training in the institutions.
“More 600 ex-militants are currently
studying in reputable British
universities, while some 300 exmilitants
are studying in reputable
universities in the U.S. We still have
some of the ex-agitators studying
in schools in Canada, Ukraine,
Russia, South Africa, Philippine
and Malaysia,” he added.
Kuku said that more than 2,072
ex-agitators had been able to secure gainful employments,
while some of them had been
empowered to set up their own
He said that several youths had
been sent to South Africa and
Israel for agricultural training.
He also said that some exmilitants
went to India for ICT
training, while others received
training in aviation and marine
institutions in countries such
as Poland. “These are skills
that are of strategic economic
interest to the nation and the
oil-rich Niger Delta region,” he
said adding that the Amnesty
Office had been able to produce
66 commercial pilots and 61
aviation maintenance engineers.
He said that the pilots had their
training in reputable flying
schools in South Africa, United
Arab Emirates, Jordan and
Greece. He added that nine of the
commercial pilots were currently
undergoing their jet-type rating
training at the renowned CAE
Oxford Aviation Academy.
The Niger Delta Nationalities
Forum, NDNF, has also
drummed up support for
the Presidential Amnesty
Programme, saying that the
initiative has particularly
boosted youth development
programmes in the region.
Its spokesman, Mr Manager
Seigha, said that detractors of
the amnesty initiative were
not doing the nation any good,
insisting that the programme
was one of most successful
initiatives of the Yar’Adua/
Jonathan administration.
“We realised that some persons
have been using the media to
make uninformed statements
about the amnesty programme,
making it a subject of party
politics,” he said.
Seigha reiterated that any plan to
jettison the amnesty programme
would not be in the interest of the
country, especially the people of
the Niger Delta. NAN

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