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Presidential Amnesty Programme: Ex-militants lament poor funding and delay in payment of allowances


Presidential Amnesty Programme: Ex-militants lament poor funding and delay in payment of allowances

The federal government’s amnesty programme was introduced by the late former President Umaru Yar’Adua for the Niger Delta militants who were in the creeks, disrupting and vandalizing oil installations. Although some of them have benefited and are still benefiting from the programme which the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has equally embraced, some of the ex-militants have continued to lament over the issue of poor funding and delay in the payment of their allowances. UCHENNA NWAFOR writes.
 
In 2008, the federal govern­ment of Nigeria in­troduced an amnesty programme which offered opportunities to the youths of the Niger Delta to get in­volved in various trainings skills acquisation, as a way of improving and turning their minds off from militant activi­ties. The programme was wel­comed by many in the region as it brought peace in the area.
After accepting the amnes­ty extended to them they were referred to as ex-militants, while their leaders became known as ‘Generals’, even as a monthly stipends of N65,000 were being paid to them for their upkeep.
However, these stipends which comes in form of allow­ances do not come regularly which sometimes make the boys to threaten going back to the creeks, but are most times stopped by their leaders (the ‘Generals’) who often times play a major role in settling disputes amongst them.
Last week, the leaders sent a protest letter to the Minister of FInance, Mrs. Kemi Adeo­sun over what they described as reluctance by the Ministry to release the 2016 supple­mentary budgetary allocation meant for the Presidential Amnesty program, saying the non-remittance of the fund is creating sense of frustration among the Amnesty benefi­ciaries and the ongoing Peace process.
The Ex-Militant Leaders, under the umbrella body of Leadership, Peace and Cul­tural Development Initiative (LPCDI), said though the Ministry hold the legal right of allocating funds as directed under the Federal Govern­ment, the ex-militant lead­ers unanimously resolved to re-echo their earlier call on the Minister of Finance to promptly release the 2016 sup­plementary budgetary alloca­tion meant for the Presidential Amnesty program.
The Militant Leaders, after an emergency meeting held on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 in Yenagoa,Bayelsa State,presided over by the President, Chief Reuben C. Wilson also known as ‘Gen­eral’ Pastor resolved that the Minister of finance should promptly release the said funds for the effective and ef­ficient management of the program, “This is to strength­en the on-going efforts of the Federal Government to en­throne lasting peace in the Ni­ger Delta region. “
“The President is working tirelessly to foster peace and development in the region. Therefore, the prompt release of the funds will go a long way in strengthening the ef­forts of the President towards enthronement peace and sta­bility in the Niger Delta. The delay in payment of stipends to beneficiaries of the Presi­dential Amnesty program will greatly negate the current ef­forts of the Federal Govern­ment in enthroning peace in the region. It is pertinent to note that the Presidential Am­nesty program is a great con­tributor to the current peace prevailing in the region.”
“The Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Ini­tiative is greatly concerned about the current state of lack of funds in the amnesty of­fice to carry out its programs which are designed to perma­nently eradicate restiveness in the Niger Delta region for the betterment of the entire country. At the moment stu­dents under the presidential amnesty program studying abroad are about to be sent back home because of failure to pay school fees and accom­modation”
“It will be very shameful that these students will be sent back home because of inabil­ity of the presidential amnesty office to pay their bills due to the non-release of the balance sum of its 2016 supplementary budget by the Ministry of Fi­nance.
The leadership is worried because if the current trend of delayed payment of stipends and school fees for the ben­eficiaries of the Amnesty Pro­gram continues, there could be breach of peace in the re­gion and a lack of confidence in the presidential amnesty program, which will be inimi­cal to the economic stability of the nation”
“As stake holders who truly want the accelerated develop­ment of the Niger Delta, we wouldn’t want such to hap­pen because of its negative consequences on both the re­gion and the Nation. Any one or group of persons that do not consider the importance of the Presidential amnesty Program in the peace build­ing process of the region is an enemy of the Nation. Such person or group of persons do not also mean well for the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari,as the economic prosperity and de­velopment of the Nation still largely depends on the peace in the Niger Delta.”
“Therefore, we are calling for the immediate release of the balance sum of the 2016 supplementary budgetary al­location meant for the Presi­dential Amnesty office to avert any situation that will warrant beneficiaries of the program going to the streets to protest and barricade roads, as such will negatively impact on the progress made so far by this administration to engender the accelerated development of the region in particular, and the nation at large.”
“We are also using this medium to thank President Mohammadu Buhari for the Love he has shown to the Niger Delta people by work­ing assiduously to enthrone peace and development in the region. We are calling on all well-meaning Nigerians to join us in working tire­lessly across the Niger Delta to enthrone peace so that the present administration will be able to achieve its policies and programs for the better­ment of Nigeria.” The Authority

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