The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) for ex-agitators in the Niger Delta, has received a budgetary allocation of N234,133,917,590 and not N400 billion since the proclamation of amnesty, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, has disclosed.
Kuku, who doubles as the PAP Chairman, told journalists at a media briefing yesterday in Abuja that given an attempt by some desperate politicians to incite undiscerning members of the public against the amnesty programme, it had become expedient to set the records straight on the exact funding status for the programme.
â€œAs most of you may be aware, though the amnesty proclamation was on June 25, 2009, the actual implementation of the post-proclamation programme did not start until about March 2010 when President Goodluck Jonathan rightly decided to domicile the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) components of the programme in the Office of his Special Adviser on Niger Delta and appointed my predecessor, Chief Timi Alaibe, as the first substantive Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
â€œPrior to this laudable move by Mr. President, the DDR component of the amnesty programme was domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Defence and the then Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Godwin Abbe (rtd) was the pioneer Chairman of the programme.
At inception, with Abbe in charge, the programme was promised by the Federal Government of Nigeria a take-off grant of N10 billion. I am aware that through out the period, both Abbe and Alaibe presided over the early phases of the programme, particularly the disarmament phase, only about N8 billion was accessed from the promised N10 billion. So, for the entire 2010 fiscal year, the federal government expended only N8 billion for the Presidential Amnesty Programme,â€ he said.
Kuku said by 2010, the demobilisation of the ex-agitators, who by then numbered 26,358, was just commencing and the critical reintegration phase had not commenced at all. He added that conscious of the inherent danger in keeping already disarmed and demobilised ex-agitators in their natural habitats and communities, the federal government in 2011 set out to speedily complete the demobilisation component of the programme and commence the reintegration of the ex-agitators.
He said â€œTo this end, in 2011, the federal government budgeted a total sum of N102,176,411,902 for the programme. Kindly note that of this amount, a total sum of N21,883,472,000 was spent on the payment of monthly stipends of N65,000 (or N66,000 in months with 31 days to the 26,358 ex-agitators enlisted in the programme.
A further N15,635,520,000 was spent during the 2011 fiscal year to pay in-training allowances to ex-agitators who were placed in either schools or skill acquisition centres within the country and abroad. Also from this totally approved budget for the programme in 2011, in line with the United Nationsâ€™ stipulated DDR codes, the sum of N6,500,000,000 was paid out as Transition Safety Allowance to the 20,192 ex-agitators enlisted in the first phase of the programme.
â€œIf you deduct the sums of money that went to the ex-agitators themselves directly either as stipends, allowances or in-training allowances, you would find out that the amnesty office was left with just 57 per cent of the 2011 budget, which is about N58,157,419,902 to carry out the massive demobilisation of the ex-agitators in Obubra, Cross River State and to pay for the cost of placing of over five thousand demobilised delegates in schools and skills acquisition centres both within the country and abroad and of course to run the Amnesty Office and its outposts in Lagos and the Niger Delta states.â€
Kuku disclosed that the budget for the Amnesty Programme in 2013 was N66,781,093.03, which is less than five days gain from the programme occasioned by the peace that had been restored in the region.
According to him, over 11,700 beneficiaries of the programme had graduated in various fields and several of them have been employed, including 10 with Nigeria Army and six with the Nigeria Customs Services, 40 with the Century Energy Group, five with SAP Drilling Oil and Gas Limited and 30 at the Proclad Group in Dubai, UAE.
â€œPursuant to our carefully worked out post-training policy, we are currently setting-up 2,000 of the graduates of our skill acquisition programme in small businesses,â€ he said.