“Our Youth with a Peaceful Mission”, an advocacy group, has urged Federal Government to include job offer in its amnesty programme for ex-agitators in the Niger Delta.
The Coordinator of the group, Dr Hilary Idoko, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of its one-day sensitisation workshop on Thursday in Port Harcourt.
The workshop, organised in collaboration with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), had the theme: “Building Peace and Preventing Violence in our Society, Our Collective Responsibility”.
Idoko claimed that many of the ex-agitators had been unable to put their training to profitable use due to shortage of opportunities in the labour market.
He said: “The amnesty for ex-agitators is one of the best government programmes that have achieved quite a lot. However, government needs to follow a more holistic approach to it.
“That approach has to come with a lot of sincerity so that people who have undergone training will have the opportunity to make use of their training.
“If government engages trainees properly after their training, some of them who are not finding jobs today will definitely not think of going back to the creeks,”
Idoko said that another set of ex-agitators that would not go back to the creeks were those who underwent their training abroad and had found jobs.
He claimed that such faulty lines in the amnesty programme might have hampered progress and success of the amnesty programme launched many years ago.
“But on our part, we are creating a ‘job-shop’ and platform where people can be trained; mentored and empowered to do those things that they are trained for.
“We want to deal with the violence and unrest in Nigeria by way of empowering the youth; mentoring, training and giving them stipends to enable them become economically viable,” he said.
Idoko said the workshop was convened to enable youths from diverse cultures and backgrounds to exchange views towards ending restiveness in many parts of the country.
According to him, youths must be given opportunity to become part of the solution to challenges facing the Niger Delta and the country at large.
“We have come of age to deal with our problems; and one of those ways is to begin to create common mechanisms where we can discuss the issues.
“We have to find a common ground where people are allowed to air their views; talk about those things that make them carry gun to kill their brothers and sisters.
“We are saying that Nigeria must be prosperous and that we can only achieve this through our collective contribution. This is the essence of this organisation and workshop,” he said.