155 Ex-Militants Benefit From Integrated Farmers Scheme and Training Workshop
30 Mar 2010
The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio has acknowledged and identified with the problems facing ex-militants in the state but appealed to them to always use dialogue rather than arms as a new strategy for agitating for the betterment of the Niger Delta. The governor stated this during a one day retreat for ex-militants in Akwa Ibom State held at Ibom Hall on Friday March 27, 2010.
Represented by the honorable commissioner of Youth and Sports, Mr. John Harry, the governor congratulated them for their love and courage in fighting injustices in the society, noting that their maturity and understanding has resulted in the federal government amnesty programme and described the ex-militants as true patriots who were fighting not for selfish interests, but for the benefit of the entire Niger Delta region.
While acknowledging that the amnesty programme is yet to commence in full, the governor assured all the repentant militants that government is committed to the amnesty programme and will never renege in her promise to fight all the wrongs by ensuring the overall development of the Niger Delta through massive entrepreneurial development, human capital development, as well as job creation.
The commissioner of youth and sports in his address at the event highlighted the objectives of the theme of the retreat “Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programme of the Federal Government” to include: creation of awareness on the federal government amnesty programme, facilitating the reintegration of vibrant young men back into the society, and identifying the 155 ex-militant beneficiaries of the state government’s Integrated Farmers Scheme, and said that government was committed to the cause of the entire amnesty programme in the state and nation in general.
The commissioner urged the ex-militants to avail themselves with Governor Akpabio’s programmes which are aimed at ameliorating the plights of the people as exemplified in his dedication and desire to rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into the society.
In his key note address, the state co-coordinator of the amnesty programme, Mr. Michael Eyo, represented by the chief administrative officer in the deputy governor’s office, Mr Ekaiko Nkopuruk observed that the relevant states in the Niger Delta will not have the strength to buy fully into the amnesty programme unless adequate financial resources are provided as what is available cannot accommodate the problems of unemployment, diseases and death, environmental degradation, pollution, poor infrastructure, lack of potable water as well as electricity ravaging the region.
Mr. Eyo further emphasized that for the desired result of the amnesty programme to be achieved, the federal government should not only set up committees, but should properly fund them, and the committees in turn should not only operate in Abuja. According to him, the state’s amnesty coordinating committees seem to have been abandoned by the national authorities and none of the state coordinators knows exactly what is going on regarding the presidential amnesty. There has been no communication or directives to them as to what may be required of them, let alone the release of funds after the disarmament and demobilization programme.
He however lauded the efforts of Akwa Ibom State government in complementing the federal government programme in various ways such as the inclusion of 155 ex-militants in the Integrated Farmers Scheme, training workshop by the ministry of youth and sports, free education policy which will enable the repentant militants to acquire secondary and even tertiary education, the lifting of ban on employment, the floating of scholarship, among others, assuring that the measures by the state government will assuage the plight of the ex-militants and give the federal government an opportunity and the enabling environment to address the fundamental issues so addressed.
Responding, the leader of the ex-militants in the state, Kingsley Umoh Bassey thanked Governor Akpabio for instituting programmes that are of direct benefits to the repentant ex-militants stressing that they could not strike in Akwa Ibom because the government had lived up to its expectation by providing basic amenities and good infrastructure, free education and other developmental strategies in the state. He emphasized that ex-militants were and are not kidnappers or armed robbers, but were agitating for a total liberation of the Niger Delta region.