N20b vote for Amnesty scheme grossly inadequate, Senators told
The Presidency yesterday expressed worry over N20 billion allocated for the Presidential Amnesty Programme in the 2016 budget, describing it as grossly inadequate.
It informed the Senate that most of its obligations in the Amnesty Programme would be frustrated should that amount be approved against the N64 billion it originally proposed for the scheme for the 2016 fiscal year.
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta/Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brigadier-General Paul Borah (rtd), at a budget defence session with the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, disclosed that a significant number of the 30, 000 Niger Delta ex-militants currently undergoing training overseas would be adversely affected.
“In view of the foregoing, I urge you most sincerely to consider an upward review from the proposed N20 billion to N64,824,488,493.27 billion for the sustenance of re-integration of ex-agitators in the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the 2016 fiscal year,” he said.Of the N63.06 billion appropriated for the programme in 2015, N63.02 billion was released.
Borah told the committee that the differences between what was submitted to the National Assembly as budget proposal for the amnesty programme was N44.8 billion.
According to him, while the programme had budgeted N19.950 billion for payments of stipends and allowances of students, a meagre N7.875 billion was voted in the budget proposal that was submitted to the National Assembly.
Another serious difference was that the budget with the National Assembly voted N10.290 billion for re-integration of the ex agitators while N41.804 billion was originally proposed.
Also, N3.07 billion was originally proposed to take care of operational cost but some N1.834 was eventually submitted to the National Assembly.
Borah further said: “With due respect, the proposed N7.875 billion for stipends and allowances can only accommodate 9,868 ex-agitators for the 2016 fiscal year, leaving a balance of 15,132 ex-agitators. However, if the proposed sum is to be utilised for the payment of stipends for the 30,000 ex-agitators, the monthly stipend will come to N21,875 for each ex-agitator which will be inadequate to cater for their accommodation and feeding allowances essential in the re-integration phase of the progranme.
“Mr. Chairman, distinguished Senators, this amount will be at variance with the initial agreement between the Federal Government and the stakeholders in the Presidential Amnesty Programme which stipulates that daily feeding allowance of N1,500 and monthly accommodation allowance of N20 000 be paid to each of the ex-agitators”
According to the chairman of the committee, Peter Nwaboshi, the committee would also vet the list of 30,000 ex-agitators submitted to it to ensure that they were genuine.
The Committee asked the Presidential adviser to immediately disengage the 247 consultants who have been working for the Programme, pointing out that the economic reality in the country cannot support the engagement of such number of consultants.