Paul Boroh, coordinator of the presidential amnesty programme, says 19 ex-militants from the Niger Delta are currently studying for a doctorate degree abroad, with a good number in the UK.
Boroh said this while making a presentation “Between Agitation and Amnesty: Sustainable Reintegration in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria”.
The brigadier-general, who was represented by Benaebi Oguoko, his special adviser, made the revelation at the University of Sussex, UK, on Friday, stating that the amnesty programme has been succesful in ensuring peace in the Niger Delta.
He said 1,723 ex-militants were deployed to study abroad, via the amnesty programme, and 1,437 already graduated from various schools across the world.
Of the 286 ex-militants who are studying abroad, 259 are studying for a bachelor’s degree while eight are at master’s level and 19 conducting Ph.D research, across 69 foreign institutions.
“At one time when the crisis was really tough, oil exports got as low as 250,000 barrels per day. But since amnesty was granted it averaged around one million barrels and then two million barrels per day,” he said.
He added that a number of people have complained that the money for the programme — about N100 billion per year — was too much, but he waved off that argument by saying if four to five days of crude production guarantee peace for the year, then it is worth it.
“Some people complain that the amount of money for the programme is like a black hole. But its an investment programme,” he added.
“For example, if you are using the money of four of five days of crude oil production to finance a programme for the whole year, and with that you guarantee government revenues.
“This is an investment programme and the ultimate programme is to make sure that peace is secured in the region.”
He said many more ex-militants are also studying in Nigeria, while some are taking up profitable vocations to add value to the Niger Delta region.