*As local amnesty beneficiaries accuse FG of neglect
with agency reports
15 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, retired Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh has said no fewer than 317 ex-agitators have graduated from different institutions in the U.S. and UK in 2017.
Boroh, who is also the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, disclosed this in New York on Friday when he visited Prof. Tijjani Bande, Nigeria’s Ambassador/Special Representative to the UN and the Deputy Ambassador Samson Itegboje.
The presidential aide explained that the Amnesty Programme was managing the 30,000 ex-agitators from the Niger Delta region.
He said the programme, which started in 2009, had sponsored the beneficiaries in various skill acquisition, education and entrepreneurship training, among others.
According to him, the programme has helped greatly to stabilise the Niger Delta region, adding that the Federal Government is consolidating on the achievements of the amnesty programme to buoy the economy.
“This year alone, we have 177 graduates of the amnesty programme from the U.S. and 140 from the UK. By the end of this month, we would be going for the graduation in the UK; that of the U.S. has been on.
“The programme is on course; it helps greatly in stabilizing the situation in the Niger Delta region. I have also been working with the United Nations on efforts to rehabilitate former agitators from the region.”
Boroh, who was attending the high-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, said he was invited “to come and disclose what we are doing in the country, particularly in the Niger Delta on the SDGs issues”.
Meanwhile, some of the ex-agitators who are beneficiaries of the presidential amnesty programme have lamented that they were currently undergoing suffering as a result of the alleged neglect by the Federal Government.
The students, under the auspices of the Forum of Niger Delta Amnesty Students of Nigeria who alleged that the FG was no more taking care of their welfare, saying all their benefits had allegedly been withheld by the government.
In a statement issued by the Coordinator, Secretary and Public Relations Officer of the association, Mr. Biliboh Ikioh, Boniface Constance and Austin Alex, respectively, the students called on the government to resolve the problem by Tuesday next week.
They threatened that if the government failed to address the problem, they would embark on a protest.
The statement read, “It would be recalled that the amnesty programme was introduced by the late President Musa Yar Adua’s administration as part of measures to mitigate the effect of the devastation in the oil rich region. Among other things, the government promised to ensure that beneficiaries of the amnesty programme gain access to free education and monthly stipends.
“The gesture was sustained during the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Under the present administration, however, FONDASN has suffered great neglect. School fees are not paid to schools as well as monthly stipends are not paid to us as and when due.
“We, the beneficiaries of the amnesty programme were distributed to various private universities in the Niger Delta Region with the Federal Government promising to pay and also give us stipends.
“However, in recent time, the government, through the amnesty office, has not been alive to its responsibilities. For the past six months, our stipends have not been paid. The last one we received was for January.”
The FONDSAN also disclosed that many of their colleagues in some universities have been sent out of schools as a result of their inability to pay their school fees by the government through the amnesty office.
The students called on the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Amnesty on Amnesty, Brig. Gen. Paul Boro (rtd) to look into their matter without delay “or else they should be ready for a show down.”