The Senate on Thursday urged the minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun to release the balance of N15billion left in the 2016 budget to fund the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) to prevent renewed agitation and militancy in the Niger Delta region due to the Federal Government’s failure to adequately fund the programme.
The upper legislative chamber also directed its committee on Niger Delta to investigate the circumstances leading to funding constraints besetting the PAP with a view to avoiding re-occurrence and report back in two weeks.
It also ordered the committee to investigate how certain individuals who are not indigenes of Abia and Akwa Ibom states found their names included as beneficiaries of the programme under the said two states.
These resolutions are fallouts of a motion titled , “Monumental challenges facing the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) due to paucity of funds”, sponsored by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP Delta North).
Leading the debate on the motion, Nwaoboshi said, “the programme is in dire need of funds and it is absolutely necessary to release the balance sum of N15billion in the 2016 Appropriation Act so as to provide funds for its smooth running.”
Nwaoboshi noted that “funds appropriated for the programme have been depreciating steadily, leading to adverse impact on the operations of the programme as tension is already building up in the Niger Delta region.”
He expressed worry that 30, 000 beneficiaries of the N65, 000 monthly allowance are being owed five months in arrears while N1, 873, 044, 700 in addition to the backlog of unpaid in-training allowance amounting to N830, 500 are the debts on the education programme (onshore) owing universities in the country.
The lawmaker added that “educational programme (offshore) is suffering the same fate as unpaid in-training allowances for 750 students between 2016 and 2017 amounted to US$4, 200, 000 equivalent of N1, 332, 000, 000 and unpaid tuition fee for 350 students amounting to the sum of US$17, 500, 000 equivalent of N512, 500, 000.”
Nwaoboshi said if the planned protest by students in United Kingdom to the Nigerian High Commission is carried out over the non-payment of tuition fees and allowances, it would bring Nigeria to ridicule and opprobrium before the comity of nations.
He noted that the federal government conceived the amnesty programme to stem the tide of disaffection, agitation and militancy in the Niger Delta Area, which resulted in loss of lives, properties and oil revenue, and the result of the programme has been quite encouraging.”