The Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on Saturday urged the Federal Government to expand the current amnesty programme to accommodate more youths in the Niger Delta region.
Akeredolu made the call when the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Maj.-Gen. Paul Boroh (Rtd) visited him in Akure.
The governor said the Federal Government could take a cue from Ondo State, which created a University of Science and Technology in Okitipupa, where people could learn how to build boats and take engineering courses.
“It is unnecessary to send them out of the country.
“A university can be set up here; the one that can teach them to build flying boats and other things that will make them to be useful to themselves and the area.
“So many things can be learnt from the university. Let us integrate more of them into the amnesty programme; let us engage them to reduce youth restiveness in the region,” he said.
Earlier, Boroh said he was happy with the relative peace in the ijaw area of the state.
Boroh said he was in the state because of the summit of the National Council on Niger Delta and to assess other issues.
The Coalition of All Progressives Congress Support Groups says the approval of additional N55 billion by Federal Government for the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme is a proof of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration commitment to the development of the region.
Amb. Sokari Afiesimama, the National Publicity Secretary of the coalition, said in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday that the groups also commended the president for the immediate release of N30 billion out of the amount.
According to the groups, the release of the money will quicken rapid development in the region.
He said the coalition, led by Amb. Munir Lawal, lauded the directive of the Federal Government to re-open the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta, noting that the university would serve as a requisite study centre for the youth.
“The coalition has been on the geopolitical zonal tour to Niger Delta Communities to educate, sensitise and advocate mass youth support for the re-opening of the Maritime University.
“We are glad for the response of Buhari’s administration to release timely intervention which truly indicates that the coalition is working with the presidency.
“We hope that the release of N30 billion out of the N55 billion will impact positive change in the region if the funds are effectively utilised for skills and vocational trainings,’’ Afiesmama said.
He said the coalition has also mobilised youths and groups and persuaded them to key to the new vision Nigeria project of President Buhari.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament on Tuesday launched a probe into a lack of funding for an amnesty programme for militants in the country’s oil-producing heartland, a key factor in maintaining a tenuous peace in the Niger Delta and supporting crude production.
Failure to maintain funding for former militants under the 2009 amnesty could jeopardise the relative stability in the Delta and even result in oil production being choked off, as it was last year by militant attacks that cut crude output by as much as a third.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives will “investigate the circumstances leading to funding constraints affecting the amnesty programme, with a view to avoiding reoccurrence and report back to the House within two weeks for further legislative action,” it said in a motion.
It also said it would urge the finance minister to release the 15 billion naira ($49 million) set aside in the 2016 budget for the amnesty programme.
The finance ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The situation is becoming more serious … as tension and threats are already palpable in the Niger Delta Region and amongst the beneficiaries of the programme,” said the lower chamber.
Five months of arrears are owed to former militants, as well as education fees for students in Nigeria and overseas, it said.
Last month, former militant leaders in the Niger Delta urged the government to pay out delayed amnesty stipends or face protests.
The government is now in talks with militants to end the attacks that cut Nigeria’s output by 700,000 barrels a day (bpd) for several months last year, reducing total production at that time to about 1.2 million bpd.