Niger Delta stakeholders to play critical role
The ongoing review of the Presidential Amnesty Programme by the Federal Government is to institutionalize and refocus the programme for the interest of its beneficiaries.
This is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to deliver gains of the Amnesty Programme through a transparent process that ensures all allocated resources are judiciously utilized, as the success of the programme lies on transformation of ex-agitators from militancy to actualizing their aspirations, engaging in businesses and living sustainable livelihood.
This is why the programme focuses on education, vocational training and empowerment, all designed to address issues of development in the Niger Delta. There is however growing concern that the reintegration component of the programme may have been frustrated by corruption and lack of accountability. This must stop for the benefit of beneficiaries and the Niger Delta.
While the PAP which was initiated on June 25, 2009 has contributed to stability in the Niger Delta, there have been persistent calls by stakeholders for a review of the programme to achieve its objective of sustaining peace, security and human capital development in the region.
More than 10 years after its creation amidst numerous petitions and allegations of corruption which are being investigated, available data point to a systemic problem with the programme structure which permits abuse of processes. The situation is in direct conflict with the Federal Government’s resolve to address the root causes of under-development in the Niger Delta conflict that necessitated the Amnesty Programme.
In order to protect all beneficiaries and ensure that no one is left behind, Government is reviewing the propramme to make it work better for human capital and socio-economic development, as well as empowerment of the region and its people.
As the PAP works to review the programme, stakeholders from the region will play a critical role, and the guiding principle is mainstreaming and institutionalization. There is a clear commitment to reform the programme in such a way that the benefits are channeled through a transparent, accountable, corrupt-free and institutionalized process.
The Amnesty Programme as structured does not deliver long term benefit to the targeted beneficiaries in the Niger Delta region and for a successful review of the programme, PAP will count on the support of all beneficiaries and stakeholders through the consultative processes already in place.
All students under the programme at home and abroad are assured that the review process will not affect their academic activities. Efforts are being made to ensure that genuine stipends are paid regularly and all genuine contractual claims settled.
Special Assistant (Media)
8th March, 2020