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THE NIGER DELTA AMNESTY PROGRAMME: THE CHLLENGES AND SUCCESSES PREPARED

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CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The Niger Delta region, also referred to as the South-South geo-political zone is made up of six states – Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, and Rivers States. It is a region made up of a number of ethnic nationalities mainly, Ijaw, Ekwere, Ibo, Efiks, Mbembe, Ejagham, Yakurr, to mention a few. This region with a population of 31 million people, is a vast coastal plain in the southernmost part of Nigeria, where one of West Africa‟s longest rivers empties into the Atlantic Ocean between the Bights of Benin and Biafra, in the Gulf of Guinea. It is situated within the wetland area of Nigeria with the most extensive freshwater swamp forest and rich biological diversity, and out of an area of about 70,000 square Kms, covered by the region, 36 Sq Kms alone is covered in marshland, creeks, tributaries and lagoons, therefore, making it the largest wetland in Africa and one of the largest in the world, while the rest is a lowland rainforest zone (Obi, 2010)
The thrust of this paper is not to give a historical account of the conflict in the Niger Delta but the amnesty initiative adopted in the region cannot be talked about devoid of the reason behind the need for the act. It should be noted that the conflict in the Niger delta region pre dates the colonial period, discovery of crude oil and the Nigerian independence. As a result of this, it isn‟t far-fetched to assert that the region had been laden with Militancy even before the discovery of crude oil at the Oloibiri in 1956.

Ayodele, (1999); Hargreaves, (1996); Tamuno, (1999), all traced the era of militancy in the Niger delta to the time of Jaja of Opobo, Ovonramwem N‟Ogbaisi of Benin establishing that the British interest in the Niger Delta or Oil Rivers goes back to 1851 earlier before the 1885 proclamation of the region as a British Protectorate. The militancy witnessed in this era was such that the british dominance and control of the palm oil trade was resisted by the Deltan Kings, although a futile effort because the British did dominate the oil trade without regard to the development of the region or its inhabitants.
The expectation and hope that came with the discovery of oil in the region was short-lived, when rather than provide development and improvement in the region it has brought about agony and penury to the people. This has led to the use of petitions, civil agitations and now militant agitations as a way through which the Niger Deltans have cried out their plight. The lack of attention from the government towards their plight led to a lot of actions, one of recountable measure was the creation of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) which was headed by Ken Saro-Wiwa who was an activist and this groups activities gave much leeway to the conflict as to them, it was a struggle and quest for self-determination.
A different era of militancy sprung up following the arrest and death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Other Ogoni 8, rather than be deterred this led to the emergence of various militant groups who saw the Ogoni 9 killings as an act of Martyrdom. These new groups all chose to live by the sword in a bid to achieve their ends and as such have taken up arms to drive their point. The blessings the discovery of oil was meant to bring has instead led to the pollution of the water and rivers through the exploration and exploitation of their lands, which has in turn has made their occupation of fishing and agriculture to become an almost impossibility with no possible solution in sight.,……..

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Just like every strategy or arrangement made by the Nigerian government, The Amnesty program which was implemented by the late former President Umaru Musa Yar‟Adua has met with visible challenges. Owing largely to the lackadaisical attitude of the system of government where
rather than continue the initiatives or operation of previous leaders, the present ones come in and take up new approaches to running their government.
The thrust of this paper is to ascertain how far the amnesty initiative of late President Umaru Musa Yar‟Adua has achieved success in quelling the issue of militancy in the region of the Niger Delta and also to identify and proffer solutions to the challenges faced along the way. The problems include:
1. The exclusive nature of the Amnesty: The beneficiaries of this amnesty program has been the militants, no thought has gone to the victims of the conflict or the families that they left behind. This program didn‟t take into consideration, mothers and children who had lost their husbands and fathers, sons who were killed during the crisis and the people who had to move from their homes because they were displaced. It is rather focused on the people who were responsible for all the death and destruction in the region.
2. Lack of cooperation: This is visible on the part of the former militants who have been provided an opportunity to join the rest of civil society and make a better living for themselves. The Amnesty Program has provided them with an opportunity to create better futures for themselves by enrolling them in schools, entrepreneurial training centers and providing them with menial job opportunities, but rather than cooperate fully with the system, they prefer to act out against all the program stands to benefit them.
3. The amnesty initiative has not been focused in addressing the root causes of the crisis in the Niger Delta Region, it is rather focused in the acts of disarming, rehabilitating and reintegrating the militants in the Nigerian state.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to determine how effective the amnesty program has been in resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta while the specific objectives are stated as follows
i. To examine the challenges faced by the government in implementing this program
ii. To determine the extent to which the amnesty program has been a success
iii. To determine if the initiative is capable of providing genuine and lasting peace
iv. To proffer an alternative solution to the crisis situation in the Niger Delta Region
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
i. What are the challenges faced by the government in implementing the amnesty program?
ii. To what extent has the amnesty program been a success?
iii. Is the amnesty program capable of providing genuine and lasting peace?
iv. Are there alternative solutions to the crisis in the Niger Delta Region?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study will examine the effect of Militancy on the overall well-being of the Niger Delta Region, thereby shedding light on ways through which issues of militancy can be addressed in a bid to forestall further occurrences and also to ascertain whether the amnesty program is a gainful solution to problems of this nature. It will add to the knowledge and existing literature on the relationship that exists between the crisis in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and the
amnesty initiative of the government and its overall impact on the socio-economy of Nigeria. This study will articulate the progress the amnesty initiative has made in providing a peaceful and habitable atmosphere for both everyday life of the citizens and the production of crude oil and its products in order to meet domestic consumption.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study is going to cover the period between the years of 2008-2014. In the process of carrying out this study, facts that led up to the uprising in the Niger Delta region would be reviewed. But unfortunately, as important as this study is, knowledge is restricted to newspaper reports and news telecast.
There are obvious limitations to this study which includes; inability to have access to some organizations publications which would have helped to enhance this study. The lack of resources such as funds needed to embark on extensive research especially in relation to visiting these regions. Finally, time constraints and lack of published materials has limited this study. Irrespective of these limitations, the available materials and data obtained from libraries, books, journals and the internet were utilized in order to produce the work. As regards the time constraints, it made it difficult to conduct interviews and distribute questionnaires, so only the Secondary sources of obtaining data was adopted in the work.
1.7 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
Chapter one comprises of the background of the study, statement of the problem, objective of the study, research question and the scope of the study.
Chapter two is the literature review which comprises of the conceptual framework, empirical review and the theoretical framework.
Chapter three is the chapter which contains the research methodology, which will be used for the thesis.
Chapter four shows the data analysis and interpretation of results.
Chapter five summarizes, concludes and makes recommendation for the

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