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Creek Or Class? Abandoned Niger-Delta Amnesty Beneficiaries Cries Out

Written by Idede Oseyande

PRESS BRIEFING BY SCHOLARS OF ELECTRIC POWER TRANSFORMER REPAIR & MAINTENANCE UNDER THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AMNESTY PROGRAMME

Gentlemen of the press, we welcome you to this brief outing and thank you for sparing your time to listen to our complaints for posterity sake. It is no longer news that the Amnesty programme was envisioned to bring lasting peace to the Niger Delta and take our youths out of the creeks into a life of meaningful engagement with funds drawn from our God given resources in the Niger Delta.

This Amnesty programme is in three phases – Disarmament, Rehabilitation and Reintegration. The final phase being very crucial as it serves as opportunity for beneficiaries to be empowered with life skills.

As we speak, we are in the middle of the last phase which is the Reintegration which we resumed on the 3rd of July 2019 only to be asked to go home on 31st October 2019 due to lack of funding and/or refusal to pay contractual obligations to contractor/consultant of Electric power transformer repair and maintenance.

Most disappointing is the fact that power distribution is a major challenge in the country and there is limited number of skilled and semi-skilled manpower in this very technical area.

Remarkably, under the Buhari administration, a $307.5m worth transformer factory, the first in the nation’s history has been initiated in conjunction with a Chinese bank who will be ploughing $261.4m to buy equipment while the FG provides the balance as counterpart funding.

As we speak, 60 Nigerian engineers are in China undergoing training in transformer manufacturing. In the same vein, the vision of those engaged in this Transformer repair and maintenance training is to locally manufacture transformers in order to save our country the millions of dollars on training abroad or foreign technical support (expatriates).

We are all Nigerians and are not unaware of the challenges experienced in the power sector. The bane of small and medium scale industries that can stimulate our economy is the absence or lack of access to electricity.

The consequences of a slow-growth in the SMEs includes spiralling unemployment and over dependence on imports thereby mounting pressure on our foreign reserves.

Our Challenges:
As it stands today, we are at a crossroad as we have not been equipped with skills that can empower us contribute meaningfully to the development of our nation.

Having gone through two stages of the Amnesty programme, it is shocking that we are unable to go through the final phase for no fault of ours.

Is it that the Federal Government has abandoned us or the Amnesty Office has forgotten that there are scholars under the Electric Power Transformer repair & maintenance of the Amnesty programme? Or has the programmes and activities of the scheme been badly prioritized?

If N4.5billion could be expended on procurement items which were later looted, why can’t the Amnesty office make milestone payment for a training contract such as this one covering Transformer repair & maintenance?

Why is it that government and its agencies prefer the language of violence than meaningful engagement?

Our Demands:
(1) Our cry today is to the father of the nation, President Buhari to urgently intervene;

(2) We call on the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta who serves as Coordinator of the Amnesty office to within the next 7 working days commence payment to the contractor/consultant in order for training classes to resume and enable us reintegrate fully into the society and take care of ourselves and families;

(3) Failure to heed our peaceful advice to release funds to enable us resume classes, we shall take this agitation to another level.

On this note, we want the federal government and the general public to be informed that we are being forced to recall our former way of life.

So we either “GO BACK TO CLASS OR TO GO BACK TO CREEK”. All though we all live to die someday, we have chosen to live.

God bless the President, Muhammadu Buhari, God bless Niger Delta, God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria

Signed:
Comrade Newyear Onyinkuro (Class Rep)

November 25, 2019

About the author

Idede Oseyande

IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.

He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.

Among his published works are 'What is Left of What is Right?', 'The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader' and 'Warri No Dey Carry Last'.

He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.

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