Niger Delta: Group seeks end to N65,000 payment to ex-agitators
The Niger Delta Integrity Group (NDIG), has called for discontinuation of the monthly N65,000 stipends paid to ex-agitators, stating that the monthly payment is capable of truncating the nobel intention of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
The group also feared that the huge amount paid monthly might discourage the Federal Government from continuing with the programme.
To this end, the group urged stakeholders in the Niger Delta to cooperate with the PAP’s Interim Administrator, Maj. Gen. Barry Ndiomu, to delist all those who have been trained and empowered, but have continued to receive the N65,000 monthly stipends.
The NDIG Convener, Dr. Boma Horsfall, in a statement, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, expressed concern that those who have been removed from further payment had embarked on street protest to embarrass the new interim administrator, rather than cooperate with him to ensure the success of the programme.
Horsfall said that it was sad and disappointing for the protesters to object the recent delisting of 2,952 beneficiaries from Phase Two of the programme, and the stoppage of their monthly N65,000 stipends.
The new leadership of the PAP led by Ndiomu had cut down on the beneficiaries’ figure, as part of deliberate moves to check the fraud that has eaten deep into the programme over the years.
Justifying Ndiomu’s “swift” action, the group recalled that the aggrieved ex-agitators had been trained and equally empowered, thus, it was time for them to exit the programme.
Horsfall said: “The Amnesty Programme clearly states that those who have been trained and empowered should exit. But unfortunately, the same persons who have been trained and empowered are the ones protesting because they are no longer receiving stipends.”
While urging Ndiomu to remain firm in his resolve to sanitise the PAP, the group wondered how the ex-agitators, many of whom have been receiving N65,000 for the past13 years, have not been able to do anything meaningful with the training and empowerment they got to better their lives.
“If you multiply N65,000 by 12 months, it gives you N780,000. If you then multiply N780,000 by 13 years since the PAP started, you will discover that each of them had received N10,140,000 as stipends. This should have been enough for them to setup themselves meaningfully and look beyond the monthly stipends.
“So Ndiomu has set up an audit team to investigate the list and ensure that there is transparency in the process”, the NDIG stated.
The group also alleged that some persons with the same BVN are receiving stipends for over 30 people.
“This has been happening for years and such corruption must stop.” Horsfall regretted that the actions of the ex-agitators were coming at a time when young people are going into technology and becoming owners of small and medium-scale enterprises, and are contributors to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. “ Depending on N65,000 monthly stipend has caused laziness in the Niger Delta region.”
The NDIG, therefore, called on those sponsoring these protests to desist, stressing that their actions would further undermine the collective growth of the region.
“The boys doing all these things are being sponsored. If not, how do they get all the logistics to mobilise?
“Information at our disposal suggests that even staff members of the PAP office that are ex-agitators are also receiving stipends.
“This is against the Public Sevice Rules. We encourage the Interim Administrator to investigate and prosecute all those who are involved’, it added.