Former Nigerian rebels reject post-amnesty plans
A coalition of former Nigerian militants and Niger Delta community leaders rejected government plans on reintegration thousands of ex-rebels.
A coalition of former Nigerian militants and Niger Delta community leaders rejected on Monday government efforts to reintegrate thousands of ex-rebels, saying training centres and funding were inadequate.
The dispute, if not resolved soon, could threaten President Umaru Yar'Adua's popular amnesty programme which has brought months of relative peace to the Niger Delta, oil major Nigeria's main oil-producing region.
The Joint Revolutionary Council, representing several former militant commanders, demanded the government significantly improve education facilities and include oil and gas training programmes.
"More than 98 percent of the suggested training centres were non-existent, ill-equipped, non-accredited and non-recognised," Cynthia Whyte, the group's spokeswoman, said.
Community groups also asked for financial assistance for families of former militants.
"I think the package should include provisions for wives, children and dependents of ex-militants who died in the course of the struggle," said Udengs Eradiri, spokesman for the Ijaw Youth Council.
The coalition said it would continue talks with the government in hopes the demands would be met.
Thousands of militants last year handed over their weapons in return for Yar'Adua's promise for clemency, monthly stipends, education, job opportunities and investment in the impoverished Niger Delta.
Violence has subsided in the Niger Delta as a result, allowing some oil companies to repair damaged facilities and boost production to around 2 million barrels per day.
But analysts say the slow progress in implementing the post-amnesty programme threatens to provoke fresh attacks.
The programme has stalled since Yar'Adua left Nigeria two months ago for medical treatment at a hospital in Saudi Arabia.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the country's main militant group, is expected to decide by Sunday whether to continue its ceasefire or resume attacks against the oil industry.
Reuters Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2010, 00:58