Ex-Militants and beneficiaries of the Federal Government Amnesty programme have tasked the Government of United State (US) and the international community at large to assist in building on the Amnesty programme to improve lives among the teeming idle youths in the region.
The ex-militants made the appeal recently in Port Harcourt during a special closed door session with the US delegation at the 2012 United State-Nigeria Bi-National Conference in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Cynthia Akuetteh, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs represented the US team at the interactions held at the Office of the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Otelemaba Amachree.
Akuetteh, who spoke with journalists after the meeting told our reporter that the essence of meeting with the ex-militant was to gain firsthand impression of the motivation that earlier pushed them into armed struggle, perceptions of the Federal Government’s Amnesty and life since their disarmament of the Amnesty.
She said: “The day before, my delegation had met with some Governments of the Niger Delta and Stakeholders of the Amnesty for a feel of what the programme has been able to achieve and the need to meet ex-militant beneficiaries of the Amnesty programme one on one to compare notes on perceptions on the programme among the various stakeholders.
After the deliberation, Allen Onyema, Spokesperson for the invited ex-militants said they told the US delegates of their appreciation of the programme and how much peace it has brought to the region and the positive change in the lives of ex-militants.
“They also talked on the need to employ most of the trained ex-militants who have no opportunity yet to apply the skills acquired. They also emphasize on the need for government to ensure that non violent Niger Delta youths who did not partake in militancy were equally deserving to benefit from the empowerment schemes to erase the widespread mindset that only violent segment of the youths are being held”, Onyema said.
Önyema, who is also the Head of the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria, the group which trained over 25,000 ex-militants on reformation and non violence added that the ex-militants told the US delegation to appeal to their home government and the international community to build on the gains of the amnesty by assisting in delivering more empowerment programmes to engage the youths and develop the Niger Delta with the benefit bringing about improved peace for the people and investors.
By Paul Obiajunwo Port Harcourt