As part of efforts to empower ex-Niger Delta agitators the Presidential Amnesty Office recently inaugurated a vocational training centre in Ondo State, James Sowole reports:
It was a celebration galore for the federal government, the Presidential Amnesty Programme and its Coordinator, Prof. Charles Dokubo as the government inaugurated the multi-million naira vocational training centre at Agadagba-Obon in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
The centre, which has state of the art facilities and relevant equipment for training of students in basic oil drilling technology, was built by the Presidential Amnesty Office mainly to train ex-agitators of the Niger Delta Region.
The Agadagba Obon centre, is one of the five training centres being built by the Office to replace the outsourcing of training from facilities privately owned by organisations both locally and in abroad at exorbitant costs.
Apart from the high cost of money needed to procure training for the former agitators in private facilities in Nigeria and abroad, the practice was also said to be responsible for the slow pace training and reintegration of beneficiaries of the programme.
Therefore, the need to look inward and speed up the pace of training and reintegration of several ex-agitators yet to be covered under the programme prompted the resolve of the Office under Dokubo to complete and activate vocational training centres at various stages of construction.
Other vocational training centre at various levels of completion are located in Kaiama, Bayelsa State; Obuama in Rivers State; Bomadi in Delta State and Gele-Gele in Edo State.
The work on the Agadagba-Obon, training centre which was the first to be completed and activated, started in 2013/2014 at the time when Kingsley Kuku was the Special Adviser to the former President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Development and Coordinator of Amnesty Programme Committee.
The centre meant for training of former agitators in basic oil and gas skills, oil drilling technology. Mechatronics, instrumentation and control, power and computer studies, was completed by the current Amnesty Office under Dokubo.
The inauguration of the training centre, which was the first to be completed and activated attracted stakeholders such as members of Committee on Niger Delta Affairs of the two chambers of the National Assembly, traditional institutions, youth organisations, State Government and Local Government.
The event had in attendance, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Baba Bashir who spoke on behalf of the committee Chairman, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, and a member of the committee, Senator Isa Misau.
The inauguration also had in attendance members of the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta including Hon. Istifanus Gyeng, Him Eta Mbora, Hon. Kolade Akinjo, Hon. Mohammed Rano, Hon. Hassan Anka and Hon. Mike Omogbehin.
At the event, various speakers commended the federal government and Dokubo for the speedy completion of the project within the short period he assumed office in March, 2018 as the coordinator of the programme.
In his goodwill message, the Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, who was represented by Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Baba Bashir, noted that the Senate was proud of the achievements of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs within his short period in office, pledging more support from the National Assembly to uplift the programme to greater heights.
The chairman said the programmes coordinator had been relating well with the National Assembly, stating that the committee would do everything possible to ensure more successes for the programme.
Speaking on behalf of members of the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta, Istiphanus Gyang, said the Amnesty Programme was designed to train and empower youths in the oil-rich region, noting that the centre would profitably engage some beneficiaries of the programme in the oil and gas industry.
Also speaking, the traditional ruler of Agadagba, the Agadagba of Arogbo Ibe Kingdom, Bamba Doubts Egbunu, said the entire community was elated by the project that would help to bring lasting peace to the Niger Delta Region.
The traditional ruler, who specifically commended the federal government and the coordinator of the programme for the completion of the project, said the project would curb restiveness as many people would be engaged.
Egbunu, promised that he would work with various stakeholders to protect facilities at the training centre just as he urged ex-agitators to take full advantage of the training programme.
Also, the Chairman of Ese-Odo Local Government Area, Mr. Ojo Omolewa, said the project was a long awaiting one in view of its importance to the people of the community in many areas.
He said in the past, people travelled to Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States for training, but with the training centre, people would now come to the area, adding that this would have a multiplier effects on the economy of the community.
In his remark, a former warlord, Henry Bimilobogha, commended the former Coordinator of the programme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, who started the programme in the area.
In his remarks, the Ondo State, Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, said the programme had not only impacted on the lives of individuals, but also transformed Niger Delta, especially in human capacity building and empowerment, thereby deepening peace in the area.
Akeredolu, who commended the late President Musa Yar ‘Adua for initiating the amnesty programme, said the programme has led to increase in revenue accrued to the nation.
Earlier in his remarks, Dokubo said the centre was set to commence building human capacity to fill gaps in the lower and middle cadre levels of the highly competitive oil and gas sector of the nation’s economy.
The Special Adviser said over 13,000 ex-agitators in the Niger Delta region have been fully reintegrated into the society by the federal government through the programme.
Dokubo said the centre would train agitators in mechatronics, drilling technology, instrumentation and control and two other areas.
He said training that would be given to delegates would be tailored towards the needs of the nation’s oil industry.
Dokubo said that many of the ex-agitators that had been integrated were already doing well in the society.
The Special Adviser, who declared that President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to the development of the region, said vocational centres, was also being built in four other States of the region.
He said the vocational training centre would partner with the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) located in Effurun, Delta State, while the National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB), would award certificate for graduates of the institute.