Resulting from the harsh federal government policies since the discovery of crude oil in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 1956, about 20 separate militant groups emerged to disrupt oil pipelines and kidnapped the oil workers. It peaked in 2008 and literally “forced” the government to reverse its policy of counter-insurgence to that of amnesty on 4 October, 2009 for the Niger Delta militants. The amnesty programme has been described by scholars as one of the most pragmatic strategies and procedures for conflict resolution, peace-building and sustainable development in the region. The programme entails granting of official pardon to the militants and training them to adjust to normal civil life. The training commenced on 5 July, 2010 and to lasted for 13 months, after which, the final phased of re-integration commenced. The programme has been criticized for being too slow and expensive, but has achieved relative peace for government to launch a road map for massive infrastructural and human capital development. Applying Jean-Francois Bayart theory on legitimacy “that the utility of violence has its limitations and diminishes with time when prolonged”, the paper analyzed the impact of the programme on sustainable peace and development in the region. It adopts the secondary method of data collection and complements it with personal interview; and finds that the amnesty programme has been beneficial to the two principal stakeholders – government, and oil companies, but not the host communities and the repentant militants. It concludes with a suggestion for Nigerians to support it, and draws four important lessons for the future, especially that of developing political will to address the ‘12 evils’ confronting Nigeria.
Key words: Amnesty, peace-building, safety, sustainable development.
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