The President Muhammadu Buhari administration has released an additional N35billion to step up the Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta in sustenance of the new understanding between the federal government and oil-producing communities in the region.
This was in a statement to the media by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), Office of the Vice-President, Mr. Laolu Akande.
According to statement, although the federal government had approved a N20billion allocation for the amnesty programme in the 2016 budget, President Buhari has now raised the funds, as appropriated, to N55 billion, with a recent release of additional N30billion.
“There is also a planned release of another N5billion,” Akande said in the statement, explaining that “currently the Amnesty Office has paid up all ex-militants backlog of their stipends up to the end of 2016.”
The release of the additional funds is coming after the presidential level interactive engagements in the Niger Delta, where the Buhari administration has enunciated a new vision for the oil-producing communities based on a presentation made by the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, to the president when he received leaders and stakeholders from the region, last November.
Subsequently, the President asked Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to embark on a tour of the region that saw him visiting several oil-producing states in Nigeria.
“Besides the monthly payment of between N65, 000 to N66, 000 to the ex-militants, the funds would also go to the provision of reintegration activities under the amnesty programme, including payment of tuition fees for beneficiaries from Niger Delta who are in post-secondary institutions at home and abroad, payment of in-training and hazard allowances and vocational training costs,” the statement read.
Other programmes, according to the statement, are the empowerment schemes and self-help, self-employment support funds, including provision of needed equipment by the Amnesty Office and “the training of pilots, aviation engineers, technicians, and vehicle mechanics from the oil-producing communities.”
Other promises made during the visits are at different stages of implementation, including the opening of the Maritime University, Okorinkoko, Delta State, integration of illegal refiners under the concept of modular refineries, resumption of all abandoned construction projects in the region and the Ogoni Clean-up.
Akande said the Maritime University “is now on course to be opened before the end of the year as the Presidency has already set the process in motion” while “other announcements are to follow as each of the commitments of the federal government to the oil-producing communities reaches advanced implementation stages.”
An inter-ministerial group, led by the vice-president, and consisting of all relevant federal ministries, departments and agencies and relevant state governments, meets regularly to drive the different initiatives and ensure effective implementation of the programmes.