*Exit of 7,242 beneficiaries to save N5.6b
*$1b clean up of the N’Delta begins
17 February 2016, Abuja — THE Presidential Amnesty Programme is exiting 7,242 former militants this year which will save the Federal Government over N5.6 billion, Presidential Special Adviser on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig Gen Paul Boroh (rtd) has told journalists in Abuja.
He announced yesterday that a taskforce has been set up to work out and implement the exit strategy with timelines that will not compromise National Security, just as he disclosed that the environmental clean up of the Niger Delta will begin in Ogoni land by the end of this month begining in Rivers State, before moving to Bayelsa and other affected states.
Boroh who assured that the condition on ground was favorable for the clean up as well as other projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ministry of Niger Delta, and Ministry of Power, Works and Housing added that Americans, English, Chinese, and Israelis have shown interest in working with the government to develop the delta region.
On the exit strategy which will cover two years, Boroh said his experience as commander of the ECOMOG necessitated its development for the programme.
“I was the last commanding officer of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group(ECOMOG) operations in Sierra Leone and nobody has talked about how ECOMOG exited.
The truth is that they left in disarray from that country because there was no exit strategy, so there is a need for an exit strategy in any mission that is planned.”
The winding down of the amnesty programme, he said, had become necessary because of its expensive nature in view of the country’s dwindling finances, and because it was never intended to be an unending programme.
“It is a DDR (Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Re-integration) an expensive programme not every country can undertake.
It is only the United Nation that can successfully achieve that because it is very expensive. Nigeria is the only country that is running a DDR programme without support from the UN. We are in the last phase of the re-integration, and this is the most critical of the phases. What I want to achieve is sustainable reintegration.”
The Presidential Amnesty Programme, he revealed, will be exiting 3,232 beneficiaries this month who have been trained as entrepreneurs and have received business and set up and starter packs.
Also affected are beneficiaries of the Oil and Gas International Foundation (OGIF) programme and the 400 for whom the office has secured employment.
A second batch of 1,042 who are currently being given starter packs to establish their individual businesses are soon to be exited from the programme which will result in a further N812,760,000 savings for government this year.
Depending on the budgetary allocation and release, the Amnesty Office plans to exit an additional 2,958 beneficiaries by the end of this year which would amount to a N2,307,240,000 savings that would otherwise have been spent on stipends.
So far, the programme has trained 17,322 of the beneficiaries leaving a balance of 12,678.
*Alifa Daniel – Guardian