Thursday, 25 April 2013

FG spends N158bn on N’Delta amnesty

Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
Federal Government of Nigeria has so far expended over $1 billion (N158 billion) on the amnesty programme since 2009. Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, disclosed this yesterday, while delivering a lecture at the first Ochendu Youth Empowerment Series, held at the Michael Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia, Abia State.

At the lecture, titled: ‘Youth Empowerment as Panacea to Insecurity in Nigeria’, Sanusi regretted that Nigeria, like most developing nations, is faced with numerous socio-economic challenges, which include unemployment, poverty, insecurity and conflicts. He, therefore, recommended youth empowerment for their active participation in economic activities, as part of the solution to these challenges. The Federal Government proclaimed and granted unconditional amnesty to Niger Delta militants in 2009 and pledged its commitment to institute programmes to assist their disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and re-integration of repentant militants.

The Amnesty Programme has so far been engaged in the training of youths in Ghana, South Africa, the Philippines, Russia, Ukraine, India, among other countries. Also, more than 5,000 youths have been enrolled in formal schools and various vocational training centers within and outside the country. Available data show that no fewer than 5,067 of the total beneficiaries had already graduated in skills acquisition fields such as welding and fabrication (1,847), entrepreneurship (1,609), pipe fitting (150), carpentry & plumbing (206), oil drilling (32), electrical installation (232), ICT (125), marine related courses (564) and others (302).

Apart from the amnesty programme which had been running for the restive Niger-Delta youths, the President recently approved the constitution of a Presidential Committee to ‘constructively engage’ key members of ‘Boko Haram’ and define a comprehensive and workable framework for resolving the crisis of insecurity in the country. The committee was set-up following the consideration of the report of the technical committee set up to review fresh modalities for addressing security challenges in the northern part of the country by the National Security Council. Meanwhile, despite efforts to curb unemployment situation in Nigeria, the phenomenon still rose to 20 per cent in 2011 as against 15 per cent in 2008.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who gave details of the unemployment figures, noted that insecurity can be triggered and fuelled by high unemployment rate. He regretted that the unemployment rate in Nigeria has remained worrisome in spite of measures by government to curb it, adding that the increase in the rate coincided with the period of heightened insecurity situation in Nigeria. He listed several aspects of insecurity which include, ethno-religious conflict, politically-based violence, economic-based violence, corruption, unemployment, maladministration ethics, faulty culture and political interference.

“Insecurity has taken various forms in different parts of the country in recent times. Predominantly, it is armed robbery in the South-West, while cross-border bandits and terrorism have become manifested in the North. “In the South-South and East, the act of kidnapping, youth restiveness and other violent crime have become rampant. Specifically, the spate of kidnapping across the country, the incessant wave of crime and armed robbery points to the fact that insecurity is a big challenge to development in Nigeria,” he said. Besides unemployment, the CBN boss identified poverty as another causative factor to insecurity. “Governments at all levels are unable to address this because there is no realistic social security programme in Nigeria to meet the people’s basic needs.

This often provides the basis for the desperation and criminally-minded activities. “Although it is known that certain state-based institutions and agencies have responsibility for the security of the citizens, these agencies appear overwhelmed and are being overstretched. “The situation is compounded by improper funding as well as governance challenges in the hierarchy of some of the security agencies. “This is manifested clearly in lack of strategic vision, inadequacies of enrolled men, modern communication equipment, sophisticated arms and ammunition and capacity building,” he noted.

The governor also said that there are raging issues on service conditions which are said to be below the standards obtained in other jurisdictions, which tend to dampen officers’ morale. Sanusi acknowledged some measures which the government has taken to combat unemployment like the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) which trains unemployed youths and retired persons in vocational skills acquisition, entrepreneurship or business development, labour-based works; rural employment promotion and job placement guidance and counseling but added that much more needed to be done by the authorities.

“The NDE is committed to employment generation, poverty reduction, wealth creation and attitudinal change to enable Nigerian youths to be self-employed and contribute to the economic growth and development of the nation” he said.

Source: The Sun

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