Timi Alaibe, the outgoing special adviser to the president on Niger Delta affairs said yesterday in Abuja at the formal handover ceremony to his successor, Kingsley Kuku, that he must build on the foundation already laid for the growth and development of the country’s oil bearing areas.
Mr. Alaibe, who recently resigned to fly the Labour Party flag in the forthcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa State, claimed that the amnesty initiative is the most efficiently conducted programme in Africa, pointing out that this is the first time that known members of armed militant groups would accept to drop their guns and embrace peace.
“The amnesty programme is a resounding success. This is the first time that those who were carrying arms are transformed into those writing examinations on non-violence, having shown their readiness to embrace integration in the society,” he said.
He said the programmes and operational structure already put in place under his leadership have charted the pathway for his successor’s success, to achieve the Federal Government’s objective of providing employment for youth in the area.
Mr. Alaibe said a total of 12,917 former members of various Niger Delta armed militant groups participated in the demobilisation and integration process through non-violent and conflict resolution programmes, while an additional 6,166 others enlisted last December.
“I believe my successor has the pedigree and experience to carry on, to help realise the Federal Government objectives of creating jobs for the youth and guaranteeing peace in the Niger Delta region,” he said.
Kingsley Kuku, the new special adviser to the president on Niger Delta Affairs, and former spokesman, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), pledged his commitment to sustain the amnesty programme. Mr. Kuku said 13, 043 former militants were successfully demobilised in 11 batches between June and December last year.
About 11,000 of the demobilised ex-militants were posted to various institutions for training, with 38 sent to South Africa, 34 currently in training in the country, while 212 are in Ghana for a similar training.