For the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) to be more effective and deliver on its set objectives, a research has recommended a transition from the status quo to residing it with the various States’ oil and gas development commissions.
The research which was conducted by Nextier Advisory concluded that this was a preferred option to transition the programme, based on the use of SWOT analysis in examining other options.
Presenting the research findings at a webinar organized by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) on Friday, Dr Ndu Nwokolo, said this option has the most ability to effectively transition the programme and address the issue of underdevelopment associated with youth unemployment and livelihoods in the Niger Delta region.
“It provides clear exit route for closing the programme without necessarily re-igniting the conflict in the region. This is because it can help in improving development projects. Again, because it is locally accountable to the communities and the local people, its success rate, is likely to be higher than what is presently achieved with the PAP,” he said.
Nwokolo said when resided within the states, the programme is very likely to have better linkage with the private sector, especially the non-oil sector, mainly in Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMSEs) in developing skill sets that are in great demand in the market, rather than its present composition where there is a disconnect between the skills acquired under the programme and skills in high market demand.
Furthermore, he explained that because the present activities undertaken by the oil community development commissions are funded from the 13 percent oil derivation to the oil producing states, this option offers a good opportunity for transferring the activities of PAP to the various states, as some of their activities are similar to what PAP does.
“As such, a direct allocation of PAP budgets to the states’ development commissions for project execution can be negotiated between the federal government and the states of Niger Delta region,” he added.
While stressing the need to review the PAP, Nwokolo said the programmed as presently designed will not achieve desired results because it is too centralized and most skills acquired lack linkage with the private sector at the local level.
“Many beneficiaries have acquired skills that are not in demand, many have not been reintegrated and remain on the pay list, so the root cause of the crisis in the region is yet to be addressed,” he said.
Noting the gains of the PAP which include increase in oil production and decline in tension in the region, Dr Nwokolo emphasized that it was however, hard to tell how many beneficiaries have been reintegrated and what they currently.
According to him, another negative finding was that the PAP is centred on individuals and has no community focus, resulting in a situation where the root causes of conflicts remain visible and unaddressed.
It also highlighted the exclusion of other Niger Delta states from the programme, noting that beneficiaries have been mostly from Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers State. It recommended the inclusion of youths from other oil producing states so that the Nigeria does not send a message that suggests it only rewards violence.
“The report shows exclusion of some states, more beneficiaries were from Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa. People shouldn’t be violent to gain from the Nigerian State; the programme shouldn’t be aimed at rewarding violence. Youths from r oil producing states should be allowed to benefit,” Nwokolo said.
His argument is based on the fact that ten years on, ex-militants who gave up arms are no longer the ones still being trained, so if other non violent youths from the listed states have been benefiting, it should be extended to all youths from the oil producing states.
The research summed that government, at this time, cannot end the PAP as it might result to slipping back to pre-amnesty situation, stressing however, that whilst continuing the programme is recommended it must not maintain the status quo.
In her remarks, Programme Coordinator of the NNRC, Tengi George-Ikoli said her organization partnered Nextier to host a conversation around the research because it falls within the remit of achieving the Natural Resource Charter’s Precept 5 benchmark which relates to benefit transfer to host communities.
The 2019 NNRC Benchmarking Exercise Report (BER) found no defined framework to enhance trust in the region, ineffective institutions, ineffective benefit transfer system and poor monitoring of the environmental impacts of extraction on oil producing states.
The PAP which began in 2009 was intended as a five year programme, where about 30,000 Niger Delta youth who surrendered arms would be rehabilitated and reintegrated.
Ten years on, though the programme has successfully disarmed the agitators and restored peace in the area, however, the Nextier research concluded that the Nigerian state does not have the moral justification to end the programme now as root cause of crisis remain unaddressed.