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Amnesty programme owes contractors N71.4b, says coordinator

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Col. Milland Dixion Dikio

The Coordinator of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, Col. Milland Dikio (retd) yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where he disclosed that the Programme was indebted to contractors to the tune of N71.4 billion.

Dikio, who addressed newsmen after meeting with Buhari, stated that the Programme hitherto meant to train and rehabilitate ex-agitators had deviated from its original plan owing to corruption in the management of its affairs.

It could be recalled that the Amnesty Programme was set up by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration. It was designed to last for a few years within which militants would be disarmed, demobilised and reintegrated into civil society.

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Dikio stated that, “immediately after the disarmament phase, challenges including endemic corruption cropped in and derailed the Programme.”He added: “Lack of enough funds and corruption were blamed for impeding the effective operationalisation of the Programme. Regrettably, the Programme has now been running for 11 years without the desired benefits delivered to the ex-agitators. Rather, the ex-agitator database was dishonestly corrupted and several contracts were awarded in total disregard of need and procurement processes.

“Consequently, the Programme is currently owing contractors the sum of N71,411,646,210.68. This informed Mr. President’s decision to overhaul the Programme, with the aim of ensuring that the dividends of the Amnesty Programme reach its original target beneficiaries.”

Dikio noted that the success of the Amnesty Programme was predicated on its ability to move ex-agitators from their previous lifestyles to sustainable livelihoods as peaceful members of their communities, and by extension contributors to the Nigerian economy.

Lamenting that not much progress has been made in the area of demobilisation and reintegration, he pointed out that the Programme is not sustainable under its existing form.

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He said: “Reports have shown that not much progress has been recorded in some aspects of the demobilisation and reintegration components of the Programme. To address this, the need to focus on education and vocational training in ways that the benefits are channeled through a transparent, accountable, corrupt-free and institutionalised process is imperative.

“The programme as currently structured is not sustainable and cannot deliver the desired long-term benefit to the region and the country.

“Consistent with the Strategic Objectives of the Federal Government, the vision of the Administrator is to refocus the Amnesty Programme to its original mandate of development and security of the Niger Delta region.”

In his remarks, National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), noted that though the Amnesty scheme was structured to redress observed problems facing the Niger Delta arising from sundry ecological and security challenges, it has been subsumed in issues outside of its original conception.

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Monguno said: “The predatory instincts of certain individuals came into the fore and the programme was turned upside down and as a result of this, like the administrator has just said, there was a lot of corruption, waste and mismanagement. Within this period, N712 billion was wasted, basically unaccounted for; and this is due to so many issues, corruption being at the fore.

“Now we realised that if the focus of the people who are supposed to drive this Programme is to capsize it by allowing their own personal interest to come in, then we are all going to be in trouble because if the Niger Delta is in trouble, consequently it will extend to the rest of the federation.

“Therefore, I had to take this step to advise Mr. President that this waste cannot go on. This programme is not supposed to be an open-ended programme. There is no place on the surface of this earth where programmes that are supposed to be palliatory will continue forever.

“Therefore we decided to take immediate action by bringing in someone who can take a deep look at the programme; a person with vast experience and we all know the experience of Col. Dikio in this type of issue.”

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