The Niger Delta Integrity Group (NDIG), has warned that the continued collection of N65,000 monthly stipends by ex-agitators is capable of truncating the noble intention of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and encouraging the federal government to terminate it.
To this end, the group has asked stakeholders in the Niger Delta to cooperate with the Interim Administrator of the PAP, Maj. Gen. Barry Ndiomu to remove all those who have been trained and empowered but are still insisting on being paid the N65,000 monthly stipends.
The Convener of the NDIG, Dr. Boma Horsfall in a statement issued on Friday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, expressed concern that those who have been removed from further payment had embarked on a street protest to embarrass the new Interim Administrator rather than cooperate with him to ensure the success of the program.
Horsfall said it was sad and disappointing for the protesters to shamelessly embrace the culture of laziness over the recent delisting of 2,952 beneficiaries of Phase 2 of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), and the stoppage of their monthly N65,000 stipend.
It will be recalled that the new leadership of the PAP led by Major General Barry Tariye Ndiomu had cut down on the figure of beneficiaries, as part of deliberate moves to check the fraud that has eaten deep into the program over the years.
Justifying the “swift” action of Gen. Ndiomu, the group recalled that the aggrieved ex-agitators have been trained and equally empowered, thus, it was time for them to exit the Programme.
Horsfall said, “The Amnesty Program 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 sanitize the PAP to avoid being terminated by the government, 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 (1 year), it gives you N780,000. If you then multiply N780,000 by 13 years ago 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 set themselves up meaningfully and look beyond the monthly stipends.
“So the man (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 added that “it is aware 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.”
Dr. Horsfall lamented that sons of the Niger Delta who have headed that PAP office have been the ones breeding corruption over the years.
He regretted that the actions of the ex-agitators were coming at a time when young people are going into tech, becoming MSME owners, and contributors to GDP growth. “Depending on this N65,000 monthly stipends has caused laziness in the Niger Delta region.”
The NDIG 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 mobilize?”
“Information at our disposal suggests that even persons who are staff of the PAP office that are ex-agitators are also receiving stipends. This is against the Public Service Rules. We encourage the Interim Administrator to investigate and prosecute all those who are involved,” the NDIG added.