Amnesty Office defends delegates’ selection process



kingsley-kuku-1.jpg newSpecial Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Dr. Kingsley Kuku, has defended the process of selection of delegates for educational programmes under the Special Scholarship Scheme for Niger Delta youths.
Kuku, who is also chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), spoke against the backdrop of allegations of nepotism and bias in a recently conducted pre-qualification test for Niger Delta youths preparatory to their enrolment for educational programmes.
“Those who failed the examination have been raising one false allegation or the other. But there is no man-know-man in all we do. Those selected were based on merit. We gave a minimum of just 30 per cent pass in the pre-qualification test and yet some people couldn’t make it.
“We have been accused of various wrongdoings and some of our staff got threat text messages on this issue. But we can defend our actions in terms of the process of selection of delegates for educational programmes. How can we send someone who does not know how to read and write to study abroad?”
Represented by his Technical Assistant and Head of the PAP Reintegration Department, Mr. Lawrence Pepple, at a pre-departure orientation in Abuja for 42 delegates jetting out of the country today (Tuesday) to the United Kingdom and Malaysia, Kuku maintained that the Amnesty Office can no longer engage in a game of numbers but strictly base its process of selection of delegates for various programmes onshore and offshore on merit.
“The programme has gone to the extent that we keep correcting ourselves when we make mistakes. What we are doing is the greatest sacrifice to humanity in building capacity without fear or favour. The schools you have been enrolled in Malaysia and the UK are highly rated internationally. Those who go to frolic and misbehave would be brought back in shame. Those who take the programme serious and excel in their studies will come back as shining stars. This programme has produced a high number of professionals in various fields, including pilots, engineers and skilled manpower in the oil and gas sector. You must strive to come out first grades in your chosen field of study,” he admonished the delegates.
Earlier, the Chief Security Officer to the Amnesty Programme, Colonel Adewale Adekoya, counseled the delegates on the rules of engagement under the scheme. He warned them not to engage in vices that would tarnish the image of Nigeria.
“You must know that this is a golden opportunity for you to study abroad. Therefore, you must avoid contraband/illicit drugs and be conscious of the fact that when you go abroad to study, you are classified as an international student. Any disorderly conduct will not be tolerated; absenteeism is not allowed. The school authorities take continuous assessment seriously. If they send a report that based on your attendance in school you are predicted to fail, you should be worried,” he said.
Also speaking, the director of Jim Business School, an educational training facilitator, Mr. Oje Aferhuan, said the process of selecting the delegates was rigorous.
He disclosed that 76 prospective delegates were granted visas for the programme but only 41 were successful in a pre-qualification examination, which they wrote on January 18, with the cut-off mark set at 30 per cent.
“The pre-qualification examination became necessary to determine students that are really grounded to study degree programmes going by the experiences of the past where students on getting overseas found it difficult to read and write very well”, he explained.
The 42 delegates are to undergo degree and post-graduate programmes in Software Engineering, Electrical/Electronics Engineering, Nursing, and Business Management among others in the UK and Malaysia.
No fewer than 19,000 delegates have so far been trained or are currently in training since the reintegration component of the Amnesty Programme for Niger Delta youths commenced in 2010.
The Amnesty Office however explained that the President has not approved the inclusion of another 6,166 persons in the programme as being speculated as the total number of beneficiaries captured in the three phases of the programme remains 30,000.
It also dismissed the claim by a group of youths claiming to be Bakassi Freedom Fighters, who recently staged a protest in Calabar, Cross River State, over alleged unpaid stipends.
It maintained that no genuine former agitator in the Niger Delta captured in the programme was being owed even a month’s stipend, saying such claim can only be made by impostors who have devised all manner of trickery to be part of the amnesty programme.

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