By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brigadier-General, Paul Boroh (rtd), has appealed to members of the Niger Delta Avengers and other militants in the region to leave the creeks and enlist in the amnesty programme for a better future.
Boroh spoke in Abuja on Friday while welcoming four ex-agitators from the region who had successfully trained in electrical transformer repairs, maintenance and establishment. They were trained by Brainbox Matrix Services Limited, a vendor to the amnesty office.
The Special Adviser, who could not hid his excitement to see the former freedom fighters become qualified electrical engineers, stated that the intention of President Muhammadu Buhari was to stabilise the Niger Delta region through human capacity development as well as infrastructural development.
He said: “First, I appreciate the president for sustaining this programme because he has not given us the go ahead to continue the training, it would have been difficult for us to achieve this great feat today.
“You can imagine a group of persons who have transformed from militancy to be electrical engineers, obviously I’m very proud of it because it has been a success story. And my appreciation goes to Mr. President who in his determination and commitment in stabilising the Niger Delta region through human capacity development as well as infrastructural development.
“In this case is two in one, the ex-agitators, 23 of them have developed their human capacity in terms of skills acquisition in transformer maintenance and establishment. This has transformed these persons from who they were to the present as well as the refurbishment of transformers which will now supply power to the environment where they are deployed.
“For those still in the creeks, this is a challenge. It is an opening, a wider platform for them to emulate and embrace so that their capacity will also be developed, instead of wasting the human resource elements in them. This means opportunities are open to them whether they are agitators or not.”
Asked if the programme would end by next year, Boroh said that the exit strategy of the Programme had the trappings of continuity to ensure that government achieved its objectives.
“The exit strategy of the presidential amnesty programme, has the connotation of adequate requirements to ensure continuity. I’m happy Mr. President has bought into the development of the region by sustaining the programme.
“This is linked to his promises during the campaigns when he said he was committed to ensuring the Niger Delta is stable during his administration and this came to manifestation here during the flag off on the Ogoni clean up on June 2, 2016. He also ensured that in this year’s budget, the rail line running from Lagos to Calabar was included in the budget. All these will give room for job creation and infrastructural development of the region. Only two days ago (Wednesday), he set up an executive committee on stoppage of gas flaring in the Niger Delta. This will translate to high level of job creation and infrastructural development of the region.
“The president also ensured that the pilot trainees in Jordan completed their programme and ensured the development of human capacity development of the ex-agitators in agriculture which will ensure job, wealth creation as well as food security. The amnesty office has been mandated to use the bio-resource center in Odi, Oyo, Cross River. All these are to demonstrate Mr. President’s interest to revamp the region”, he said.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of Vendor, Brainbox Matrix Services Limited, Eferebo Silvanus stated that the boys were taken through various stages of transformer repairs in the course of their training.
He said that out of the 23 trainees four of them graduated with distinction and had been given automatic employments by the company.
“The training is transformer repairs and maintenance but they also acquired other skills. They started in December and ended in September. We took them through the process of technical drafting and design, conceptual idea on how these transfers can be assembled. After which they did basic computer skills and entrepreneurship, how they can be on their own before the core practical session of the transformer aspect was now focused on.
“These four students were the ones that came out with distinction and gained automatic employment in the company.”
One of the graduates, Austin Ogwuru could not hold his joy back as he expressed his gratitude to God and Buhari.
He also appealed to his colleagues in the creeks to join them.
“I’m very happy. First I give thanks to God for making this day come to pass. I also appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for giving us this opportunity to come out in flying colours.
“I’m also appealing to my colleagues in the struggle to come out and join us, so that they will also come out in bright colours”, he said.
The highlight of the event was the practical demonstration of their skills with a transformer.