The Presidential Amnesty Office received a total of N25 billion appropriation under the 2016 Budget including a N5 billion loan from the government.
A statement from the coordinator of the programme Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh, said the funds were received under three line-items; Stipends which has seen 99.7 per cent expenditure, Reintegration which has had 93.62 per cent implementation, and Operational Activities which has had a 98.615 percent application.
He said the payment of stipends to amnesty beneficiaries cannot be endless, adding that his Office is sensitizing beneficiaries and their leaders to this reality.
He said that “Stipends cannot be forever; the best thing is to teach people how to fish than to be given fish forever”
Boroh reiterated Government’s commitment to the training and empowerment of all beneficiaries under the Programme before exiting them.
He, however, revealed that the office would on Nov. 28, deploy 500 ex-agitators to undergo training in advanced agriculture at the Bio Resource Centre in Odi, Bayelsa State.
“500 other ex-agitators will also be trained in the centre after this first batch ends its training in the next five months,” he said.
He said youth unemployment remains the major challenge in the Niger Delta and that everything possible must be done by all to put the moribund industrial complexes in the region back to life.
The coordinator said the industries included the Aluminium Smelting Company in Akwa Ibom, the Aladja Steel Company in Delta State and the various ports in the region.
“These would provide employment for tens of thousands of youths in the Niger Delta,” Boroh said.
The Coordinator also warned beneficiaries of the Programme to stay clear of politicians who may want to use them to foment electoral violence in the Dec. 10 re-run election in Rivers State.
He advised beneficiaries to only perform their civic duty like other citizens, adding that any of them involved in violence would be violating his amnesty oath and therefore be expelled from the Programme.
The statement also quoted the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta as saying that peace must be secured in the Niger Delta by all means as failure of peace in the Region would impact negatively on the country.
Speaking on behalf of an 11-member team that conducted an oversight function to the Presidential Amnesty Office in Abuja, Committee Chairman, Hon. Essien Ayi, said “Peace in the Niger Delta means peace in Nigeria; trouble in the Niger Delta means trouble in Nigeria.”
Ayi said that the National Assembly has passed the Executive’s virement request for the Presidential Amnesty Programme, adding that it showed the Assembly’s commitment to the success of the Programme.
He said that the House had fought for proper funding of the Programme, adding that “Your success is also our success and your failure, our failure. We need to flow with you to ensure success”. (NAN)