President Muhammadu Buhari administration has released additional N35 billion to step-up the Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta region.The lifeline, according to a release from the Vice Presidential Spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande, on Saturday is in sustenance of the new understanding between the Federal Government and the oil-producing communities.
The FG had approved a N20 billion allocation for the Amnesty Programme in the 2016 budget.
“President Buhari has now raised the funds, and as appropriated, to N55 billion with a recent release of additional N30billion.“There is also a planned release of another N5 billion later,’’ the release said.
The release indicated that the Amnesty Office had paid up all ex-militants backlog of their stipends up to the end of 2016.
The release of the additional funds is coming after presidential level interactive engagements in the Niger Delta, where the Buhari administration had enunciated a `New Vision’ for the oil-producing areas.
The vision was based on the presentation made by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), to the President when he received leaders and stakeholders from the region in November 2016.
Subsequently, the President asked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to embark on a tour of the region that saw him visiting several oil-producing states in the country.
Besides the monthly payment of about N65,000 to N66,000 to the ex-militants, the funds would also go to the provision of reintegration activities under the Amnesty Programme.
It would cover payment of tuition fees for beneficiaries from Niger Delta in post-secondary institutions at home and abroad, payment for in-training and hazard allowances and vocational training costs.
There are also empowerment schemes and self-help, self-employment support funds, including provision of needed equipment by the Amnesty Office.
The funds would also support the training of pilots, aviation engineers, technicians, and motor vehicles mechanics from the oil-producing communities.
“The Buhari administration reassures the Niger Delta communities of its unalloyed commitment to a faithful implementation of its promises made during the FG interactive engagement visits by the Vice President to different oil-producing communities.
“Other promises made during the visits are currently at different stages of effective implementation,’’ the release said.
It mentioned the opening of the Maritime University, integration of illegal refiners under the concept of new Modular Refineries, resumption of all abandoned construction projects in the region, the Ogoni Clean-up, and several others.
The release noted that the Maritime University is now on course and would be opened before the end of the year as the presidency had already set the process in motion.
“Other announcements are to follow as each of the commitments of the FG to the Niger Delta oil-producing communities reach advanced and implementation stages.
“Already there is an inter-ministerial group consisting of all relevant ministries, departments and agencies, (MDAs) of the FG, with the involvement of relevant State governments,’’ it added.
According to Akande the group is led by the Vice President and meets regularly to drive the different initiatives and ensure effective and ongoing implementation.