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Reps Seek Increased Funding For Presidential Amnesty Programme

Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Affairs have sought for an increased funding of the annual budget of the Presidential Amnesty…

Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Affairs have sought for an increased funding of the annual budget of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).

They made their position known recently when they met with the PAP’s Interim Administrator, Major-General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd) at the PAP’s headquarters in Abuja.

The visiting House Committee members led by the Chairman, Hon. Eugene Okechukwu Dibiagwu assured of interfacing with their colleagues with the conviction of finding common grounds to address the funding gap in the amnesty programme.

The lawmakers said a representation would be made to the President and the Federal Government with a view to draw executive attention to consider an increase of the annual budget of the PAP to reflect the present economic realities.

Following a presentation by the Interim Administrator, the parliamentarians in their separate remarks, expressed admiration in the application of good judgement and the judicious deployment of scarce resources in meeting the Programme’s increasing obligations.

Members of the House of Representatives Committee on the Niger Delta commended General Ndiomu and his management team for what they described as a rare display of character and leadership quality in managing one of the most challenging public agencies in the country.

“We hereby say the designation of Interim Administrator be changed to a substantive chief executive of this Programme and we encouraged him to work closely with the House Committee to enable us collectively address those obvious challenges of the Programme” the lawmakers said.

Speaking earlier, Hon. Dibiagwu had explained that the House Committee on the Niger Delta embarked on the visit to the PAP to interact with the Interim Administrator and his team on issues of the PAP mandate, mission and vision, policies, programmes, and projects as well as the impact of its activities on the ex-agitators who are the direct beneficiaries of the Programme.

Other areas of interest according to Hon. Dibiagwu are “achievements of the PAP in intervention activities, prospects for the future and overall composition of management and staff as well as any other business that might arise in the course of the engagement”.

“You have administered the PAP soundly and some of the details we have requested for can help in channelling those legislative decisions toward any necessary amendment and we also suggest the PAP collaborate with other interventionist agencies in the Niger Delta for a greater benefit”.

The committee according to Hon. Dibiagwu will return soon to carry out oversight functions.

In his presentation, General Ndiomu gave a detailed account of activities since his assumption as chief executive in September 2022 and declared that “the purse of the PAP is currently stretched to the limits due to the forex challenges. This has made the cost of both local and foreign education and other training schemes highly exorbitant”.

According to him, the PAP is in partnership with 18 universities and 61 non-partnering universities onshore. He stated that a total of 1,659 students’ beneficiaries under the PAP scholarship scheme have graduated from offshore universities even as the Programme has trained more than 19,000 beneficiaries in vocational skills.

The Interim Administrator explained that he inherited a N41 billion debt linked to projects in vocational trainings and empowerment from between 2017 to 2019 and another N14 billion debt from unpaid stipends to beneficiaries and has since offset the latter.

“Also inherited were vocational training centers in Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Ondo states but unfortunately the only which was completed and equipped at Boro Town-Kaiama in Bayelsa State and ready for take-off was broken into, vandalized and looted for which the PAP would require about N8 to N10 billion to rehabilitate now”.

“While the monthly stipend payment to ex-agitators gulps about 50 percent of the annual PAP budget, General Ndiomu noted that the age of beneficiaries and attendant difficulties for most of them to adapt to learning in a formal education setting, necessitated the initiative of the PAP Co-operative Society Limited (PACOSOL) which is currently birthing a new breed of entrepreneurs through the provision of financial support, market linkages and mentorship to enable to grow their businesses”.

On the current value of the annual budget, General Ndiomu emphasized that, “PAP’s annual budget is N65 billion, an amount that has remained constant while the official exchange rate since he assumed office has continuously witnessed an increase and this is severely impacting activities of the Programme.”

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