By Deji Abdulwahab
No fewer than 2,167 repentant insurgents have graduated from the Operation Safe Corridor’s (OPSC) Deradicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) programme, organised by the Federal Government, an official has said.
Mr Audu Ayuba, the Assistant Director of Planning, Research and Strategy, National Orientation Agency (NOA), disclosed this on Friday at a capacity building workshop for staff members of the agency.
The workshop was on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE), and Disengagement, Disassociation, Reintegration and Reconciliation (DDRR) in Abuja.
Ayuba, who presented a paper titled, “Overview of Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC)”, said that out of the 2,167 trainees, 2,140 were Nigerians and 27 foreigners from Cameroun, Chad and Niger.
“Since the inception of the OPSC DRR programme, 2,167 clients have graduated comprising 2,140 Nigerians and 27 foreigners (Cameroun, Chad and Niger).
“They were successfully handed over to their national and state authorities for reintegration. The programme was accepted by the state governments, community leaders and people of the North-East.
“This was achieved due to continuous community sensitisation visits to Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states by the OPSC with the help of technical partners and visits by the state delegates to DRR camp to see their indigenes.
“There is increased support from development partners and NGOs, both national and international partners such as International Organisation for Migration, Centre for Democracy and Development, United Nations Children’s Fund, Swiss Embassy, etc.’’
The NOA director said that more of the clients had been accepted in their communities and the level of stigmatisation had reduced due to the strategic communication on DDRR, PCVE and OPSC carried out by the stakeholders.
“There is an increase in the number of new admissions for the DRR programme.
“More recently, more than 100,000 Boko Haram fighters and their families have surrendered to the Borno Government due to peace dialogue initiative with the insurgents.
“The DRR camp graduated 559 clients on March 25, 2023.
“There have been construction of more hostel accommodation with capacity for 1,500 clients, the programme has also received international recognition as witnessed by the visits of delegations from Cameroun, Chad, Niger and some foreign institutions to study it.
“Furthermore, the United Nation’s Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, visited the DRR camp in Gombe on 30 June, 2021,’’ he said.
Ayuba said that the clients were exposed to vocational training of their choice, which included barbing, carpentry, cosmetology, farming, leather works, tailoring, cap weaving/embroidery and welding.
According to him, farming is made compulsory to all the clients in addition to any trade of their choice.
“Some proposed vocational activities that are awaiting approval by partners include: photography, block making, bread/pastry making, driving and maintenance, food processing, painting, plumbing and repair of basic technological devices such as phones and radios,” Ayuba added.
In his remarks, the Director-General, NOA, Dr Garba Abari, said that OPSC was an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram (BH) insurgents to surrender and embrace peace.
“From 2009, when the Boko Haram insurgency started, to date, many lives have been lost, tens of thousands of people displaced, Nigeria and Nigerians suffered economically, socially, politically, culturally and above all suffered serious security challenges leaving citizens in fear.
“The activities of Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) members in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria were major concerns to the government and people of Nigeria as well as international community.
“As we all know, NOA is mandated to mobilise, sensitise and orientate Nigerians on the policies, programme and activities of the government.
“It equally provides feedback to the government on how the citizens feel about governance and what they expect from government at all levels.’’
According to the director-general, the Agency’s role in OPSC is to mobilise and sensitise the government and people of the North-East on why the Federal Government created the OPSC.
“We are also mobilising and sensitising the Boko Haram fighters in the bush on the need to surrender, lay down their arms and embrace peace as government does not want to continue to kill its citizens,’’ he said. (NAN)