On 14 February, the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Abubakar, announced that training programmes for police personnel this year have been suspended on account of poor and obsolete facilities.
Addressing officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force on his maiden visit to Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom, since his appointment as Police chief, Abubakar said that while every police officer was entitled to training courses, the training institutions were in shambles. “Our training institutions are bad enough”, he said, “I will not allow my officers to go on courses and use their money to buy water, bread and other needs”.
The Inspector General said: “There is need for national rebirth in the Nigeria Police”. He told his officers and men that: “The era of corruption is over. We must allow competence and merit to take over its place”. He warned that failure at courses after second attempts would no longer be tolerated, that posting in the police would henceforth be based on the individual’s capacity to deliver, while promotion would be based on performance at promotion courses.
The police chief regretted that “So many things have been done unprofessionally” in the organization, and stressed that the time had come to turn a new leaf. He said: “We must redouble our effort in changing the damaging image that we have in the police today. There is need for you to change your attitude to work. There is need for us to go back to the basics of policing in this country”.
Abubakar also disclosed that plans were underway to change the uniform of the nation’s police personnel. He said: “We are making efforts to change the police uniform to a better uniform that will make you to be respected”.
The IGP, who was on a working visit to the Akwa Ibom Command, used the occasion to inaugurate a special crime-fighting squad funded by the state government and code-named Quick Response Squad (QRS). He commended the Akwa Ibom Police Command for reducing the crime rate in the state but urged its officers and men not to rest on their oars.
On 22 July, the Federal Government sent off another batch of 50 Niger Delta ex-militants to Sri Lanka for training in deep-sea diving, underwater welding and boat building.
Speaking in Lagos, at the send-forth for the departing trainees officially addressed as delegates, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, said they were heading to the Topher Zhang Vocational Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for a six-months training programme. He said they would be given international certification at the end of the course, qualifying them to work anywhere in the world.
Kuku, who was represented by Dr. Ferdinand Ikwang, urged the delegates to make the best of the programme in order to achieve their personal goals as well as those of the Federal Government.
The Presidential Adviser also indicated that the government was already arranging to ensure that they are employed as soon as they complete their training. He added that government may also empower those with entrepreneurial skills to start up their own businesses in order to employ other Nigerian youths.
The Chief Security Adviser of the Amnesty Office, Lt Col Adewale Adekoya, also warned the delegates against any unruly or fraudulent acts, saying the government would withdraw, and if necessary prosecute, any of them who misbehaved while on the course.
Another 258 Niger Delta ex-militants off to Poland, Philippines, India and South Africa for training
From 8 to 10 July, the Federal Government sent another 258 former Niger Delta agitators to four countries (Philippines, South Africa, India and Poland) for training in maritime and crane operations as well as pipeline wielding, under the post-amnesty re-integration programme.
The breakdown of the delegates going to each country is as follows:
- 97 to South Africa for welding and crane operations.
- 96 to the Philippines for welding.
- 44 to India for diving.
- 21 to Poland for maritime training, for two-and-a-half years.
In brief address at a send-off ceremony in Lagos, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku noted that this was the first time the Amnesty Office would be dispatching four batches to four countries simultateously, since the commencement of the training programme for former agitators. He said the aim of the vocational training courses was to equip the youths for productive work.
Kuku implored the youths to behave well in their countries of destination, warning that the Amnesty Office would not hesitate to bundle any errant delegate home.
The Presidential Adviser also spoke on government’s plans to facilitate jobs for some of the ex-agitators that had completed their vocational training in South Africa. He said negotiations were on-going with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), to engage the five divers that graduated from South Africa recently.
He said the federal government was also working towards getting those oil companies that are involved in exploration and production to train and absorb some of the ex-agitators. He said his office would invite experts to look at the possibility of post-training engagements in compliance with the Local Content law.
Kuku further explained that since the commencement of the re-integration phase of the programme in August 2010, more than 7,000 transformed ex-agitators had been placed in both local and offshore training centres, on government’s sponsorship. In fact, the batch that left to four countries this weekend brings to 857, the total number who have been sent abroad, either for vocational programmes or for university degrees. The Special Adviser said more are slated for training courses offshore soon.
Present at the pre-departure briefing were the ambassadors of Poland, Mr Pizemyslaw Niesiolowski and the Philippines, Mr Nestor Padalhin, as well as a representative of the South African embassy, Mr Godfery Mulaudzi.
On 27 May, the Federal Government, through its Amnesty Office, sent out another batch of 137 Niger Delta ex-militants to South Africa for training in various trades.
The group, which received final briefings in Abuja, after an orientation for the six-month training abroad, left the country for Pretoria on 28 May. On completion of their programmes, they are expected to have become sufficiently skilled to secure gainful employment or establish their individual businesses.
At a pre-departure briefing in Abuja, the South African Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Godfrey Malaudzi, urged the ex-militants to be good ambassadors of Nigeria. He said: “Use the opportunity of the visit to disabuse the minds of the people over there of the negative impressions they may have about Nigerians. Do Nigeria proud when you get there. Adjust to the environment there and be conscious of the fact that the cultures of the two countries are not exactly the same”.
The Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the programme, Lt. Col. Adewale Adekoya, who handed down a code of conduct to the trainees, told them to obey the laws of their host country, as well as the rules of the training centres and hotels where they would be accommodated. He warned that the Amnesty Office would not condone “any form of violence or disorderly behavior during or after the training”.
The CSO told the youths to learn a lesson from some of their colleagues who had been deported from various countries, including 6 from United States, and others from Ghana and Russia, on account of bad behaviour. He said that anyone so deported would not be considered for any other training opportunity by the Amnesty Office, until the over 20,000 ex-militants who are still awaiting their own training, must have taken their turns.
The ex-militants were each to receive a clothing allowance of 500 USD and a monthly allowance of 500 USD. The training institute would provide them accommodation and feeding.
Federal Government withdraws 6 ex-militants from training course in US, Presidential Adviser Kuku reports
On 21 May, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, reported that the Federal Government had recalled six out of the 38 ex-militants earlier sent to Florida, US, to pursue studies in marine mechanics.
Kuku explained the six youths, who were sent to the US about eight weeks ago, were withdrawn from their training institution and recalled home over allegations of misconduct. He said security agents had seized their travelling passports. He added, that the passports, had been sent to the US embassy with request that their visas be cancelled.
He said, “We have withdrawn them from the schools and they have been sent back to Nigeria. Today, we have submitted their passports to the US embassy for them to cancel their visas. After that, we will return their passports to them”.
The recalled trainees were among the team which flew out of the country on 21 April, and who were to be trained in Marine Mechanics for six months at WyoTech, in Daytona, Florida. Earlier on, in February 2011, the Federal Government had withdrawn four out of 38 ex-militants sent on training programmes in South Africa, following the decision of their training institution to withdraw them due to “lack of capacity to cope with the studies.”
At about the same time (February 2011), following reports of unruly behaviour by some ex-militants undergoing training in Ghana and South Africa, the Government rolled out a Code of Conduct for all former militants on training abroad, which provided stiffer penalties for violators.
Kuku had disclosed, at the time, that under the new Code, the penalties for unruliness or gross indiscipline abroad would include stopping the monthly allowances and stipends of trainees, as well as withdrawing their certificates of amnesty and the certificates for non-violence issued to them earlier by the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN).
On 21 May, the Federal Government sent off another batch of 24 ex-militants from the Niger Delta, to study in the United States, under the presidential amnesty programme.
Speaking at a ceremony organised for the departing youths at the Murtala Mohamed International Airport in Lagos, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Matters, Hon Kingsley Kuku, told journalists that they were being sent to Petroskills Petroleum Institute, Houston, Texas, USA, to undergo a six-month course in oil drilling.
Kuku further stated that this latest batch of 24 trainees, made up of 22 men and two women, brings to 645 the number of Niger Delta youths sent for training abroad, on different programmes being sponsored under the amnesty programme. He explained that these offshore training programmes were aimed at growing the skills and potentials of Niger Delta citizens who would, upon certification, be employed in the oil and gas industry.
He urged the youths, officially referred to as delegates, to be good Nigerian ambassadors to the United States, and to use the opportunity to improve themselves and brighten their future.
On 21 April, the Federal Government sent off another batch of 117 Niger Delta ex-militants to South Africa for a six-month training course under its post-amnesty programme. According to government sources, the youths are to be enrolled at Itumeleng Training Solutions and Development Institute in Pretoria, where they will be trained in pipeline welding and crane operations.
Speaking at a send-off ceremony for the youths at the Sheraton Hotel in Lagos, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon Kingsley Kuku, urged them to see the government’s gesture primarily as a privilege, and to be good ambassadors of Nigeria in South Africa. Kuku pledged that the government will do everything within its powers to empower them, adding: “The only way you can show appreciation is to take advantage of this training programme and make the best use of it”.
He also assured them that upon completion of their training, they would receive international certification that will enable them to find jobs in the oil and gas sector, which has hitherto been the preserve of expatriates.
The youths, who left the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos aboard South African Airways, bring to 621 the number of the former militants that have been sent abroad for both university and technical training under the amnesty programme.
On 20 April, the Federal Government sent off another group, comprising 38 former Niger Delta militants to the United States for skills acquisition training, as part of its post-amnesty programme. The trainees, who actually flew out of the country on 21 April, are to be trained for the next six months in Marine Mechanics at WyoTech, in Daytona, Florida.
WyoTech, formerly known as Wyoming Technical Institute, offers short-term technical, career-oriented training for the automotive, diesel, motorcycle, HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning), watercraft and collision/refinishing industries. It has six campuses across the US. Its campus in Daytona, Florida, was established in 1972, and the programme in marine mechanics started in 1973. The programme provides training in inboard gasoline-powered marine engines, outboard motor mechanics (which was added to the curriculum in 1975), as well as marine diesel engines and generator sets.
Speaking at the pre-departure media briefing for the former militants, the US Consul-General in Nigeria, Mr. Joseph Stafford, said the Federal Government had done the right thing by investing in Niger Delta youths. According to him, the training of the former militants will enable them contribute actively to the development of the Niger Delta and the country generally. Stafford expressed the willingness of the U.S. government to continually assist Nigeria in developing the potentials and skills of Niger Delta youths.
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon Kingsley Kuku, commended the US ambassador in Nigeria for granting visas to the 38 youths. He said another group would also be leaving for Houston in a few days’ time. Kuku said the departure of the youths going to the US “is a breakthrough and we are hopeful other embassies will follow suit”.
He identified some of the challenges facing the programme to include lack of commitment by oil firms operating in the Niger Delta as well as the refusal of some state governors in the region to accept the former agitators as transformed youths. But he said: “The amnesty programme is on course and President Goodluck Jonathan is committed to its success”.
Answering a question on the difference in duration of the courses for which the various groups of ex-militants are being sponsored to abroad, Kuku explained that: “For those who are qualified to undergo degree courses in the university, the programme will be for the duration of their courses, which, for instance, is not the same for those who undergo six-month vocational training. But the point of disengagement for all of them, after their training, is when they have been engaged in meaningful ventures. We will ensure that those that complete their training are meaningfully engaged”.
On 26 March, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, disclosed that the Federal Government has enrolled 20 Niger Delta ex-militants for pilot training in the Afrika Union Aviation Academy, based in Mafikeng, South Africa.
Speaking at an orientation conference organised for the trainees in Abuja, Kuku said they would be trained to become commercial pilots over a period of 13 months. The training programme is being coordinated by Ashland Consult, a company based in Gauteng, South Africa.
The Special Adviser urged the trainees not to regard the training as their right but as a privilege. He warned that “the Amnesty Office will not hesitate to disengage any trainee who foments trouble at the training centre’’. He added: “I will be visiting you (trainees) every two months to assess your performances’’.
Mr Uche Odozor, Managing Director of Ashland Consult, said the 20 trainees were picked from 70 ex-militants that were screened by aviation experts from South Africa. He said training at the Academy was a great opportunity for the trainees, as the school also operates a commercial airline and could employ some of them on completion of their training.