President Goodluck Jonathan
By Davidson Iriekpen
President Goodluck Jonathan has listed peace in the Niger/Delta region, increased oil exploration and revived economy as part of the gains of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
Speaking in Lagos yesterday at the public presentation of a book written by the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, titled: "Remaking of the Niger Delta: Challenges and Opportunities", the President pledged to sustain the programme till all the militants are fully integrated.
Jonathan, who was represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, extolled Kuku for working assiduously to ensure the Niger Delta wears a new look.
He said the militancy in the region crippled the nation's economy in 2009 by robbing the country of over N3 trillion in revenue.
"We also had low reserves. foreign investment was also poor and insecurity in the region was fingered and late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua granted the militants amnesty”, Jonathan recalled.
The President said about 23,580 ex-agitators enlisted in the amnesty programme, adding that 13,078 have been trained in various profession and vocation.
The President expressed delight that the amnesty programme has brought peace to the region.
He commended the late president Yar’Adua for initiating the amnesty, while urging the youths to “maintain the peace, imbibe the values of discipline, commitment and hard work in whatever you are doing and the sky would be your their limit.”
Making reference to his own background, he said the youths “don’t have to be born of rich parents to become somebody in life.”
President Jonathan said he would “work and partner all Nigerian youths because as leaders of tomorrow you have a big role to play in changing the way we have been doing things in this country,” adding that the Federal Government would also partner the state governments to create jobs for the youths.
“We have reached a stage where we must do things differently and begin to attract foreign investments,” he noted.
Also speaking at the event, the Senate President, David Mark, represented by Senator Nurudeen Usman, described the book as a noble initiative.
Mark said it was regrettable that 50 years after oil was struck in the country, there was no law to protect the environment or sanction companies that involved in environmental degradation.
He added that what oil companies dare not do overseas because of the laws in those countries were the things, they do in Nigeria because of the Nigeria’s weak laws.
He assured that a bill meant to sanction oil and gas companies was underway, adding that Kuku's commitment has led to the development of invaluable human resources for the region and the nation as a whole.
"The aviation college has not trained more than 250 pilots since inception but the amnesty programme has within two years trained about 200 pilots. But I urge him to continue with the good works as we'll be the first to criticise him if he goes in the wrong direction", he said.