By Innocent Orok
As the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, gets to the most critical stage of re- integration of ex -agitators into mainstream society, a group, the Ijaw Media Forum, has urged international donor agencies to assist the PAP in achieving its set objectives.
President of Ijaw Media Forum, Elder Asu Beks, made this call during a Live Radio interview in Lagos during the weekend. The Presidential Amnesty Programme , the brain child of late President Umaru Yar’adua, was introduced on September 16, 2009.
The PAP was initiated by the late President at the peak of the agitations by Niger Delta youths on account of marginalization and environmental degradation following decades of oil exploration by the Federal Government.
The program was aimed at disarming, demobilization and reintegration of ex- agitators back to society.
Asu Beks explained, during the Radio interview that while the DD components of the program had been achieved, there was much more to be done to fully integrate the ex- agitators back to society.
He praised the current leadership of the PAP led by Gen. Barry Ndiomu (rtd) for introducing a revolving Cooperative Scheme for ex- agitators for which N1.5bn has been deployed as seed money, urging international donor agencies to assist.
Said he : ” Nigeria’s Amnesty Programme is the only DDR scheme in recent World history where international donor agencies are not complimenting what the Federal Government has done so far. The reintergration process is the final and most critical aspect of this project; if the global community does not come to the aid of Nigeria at this crucial stage of the scheme, it is not only Nigeria that have failed ” Asu Beks opined.
No fewer than 30,000 ex- agitators were captured by the administrators of the scheme, majority of whom have either benefitted from formal University education or skills that have prepared them to take up trades of their choice.
Records at the disposal of this magazine shows that while 55% of the over 30,000 ex- agitators have been fully been reintergrated to society, the remaining 45% are in various stages of life changing platforms provided by the PAP. These include University scholarships in local and foreign institutions, as well as skill acquisition centers spread across the Niger Delta region.
The Cooperative scheme which was launched in May this year, will provide single digit loans for ex- agitators who which to engage in businesses of their choice .