The Senate Committee on Niger Delta has expressed dismay on the delay in release of funds for payment of stipends and other allowances to beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
The committee expressed its view in a statement issued by Special Assistant, Media to the Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Mr Murphy Ganagana on Thursday in Abuja.
Ganagana said that members of the Committee during their visit to the office described funds so far released out of the 2018 budgetary allocation to the office as grossly inadequate.
“This committee became aware of the fact that amnesty office got only N5 billion twice out of the N65 billion allocated to it in the 2018 budget.
“And this N5bn translates to approximately 7.7 per cent, which is grossly inadequate,” Senator Baba Bashir Garbai, Vice Chairman of the Committee said.
According to him, the committee will henceforth ensure prompt release of funds allocated to the programme.
“This kind of situation underscores the need for an interactive session like this so that we can put pressure on the Ministry of Finance and those that are involved in the release of funds.
“Amnesty programme is a very important programme of this government. From the Yar’Adua administration up till now, it has brought down the temperature in the Niger Delta, because of that, whenever you are having these kinds of challenges, let us know as a committee so that we can intervene,” Garbai added.
He said since the committee was inaugurated, it has not had the opportunity of formally coming to make an oversight visit to the amnesty office.
“So, we are here to share with you some of your experiences in the various departments to formally interact with you about the activities of your office.
In his remark, the Coordinator PAP, Prof. Charles Dokubo, reiterated President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to turn around the narrative of the Niger Delta region.
“I will work hard to make sure that the amnesty programme attains the mission and objective for which it has been created.
“Maintaining peace and security is the most important thing. It is not about military security; it is human security, where the human being becomes a reference point for security; where we develop, assist, empower, train and give jobs to these people that have been left out of the system.
” So in whichever way you can help us, I’ll plead with you not to hesitate to help us because we don’t have fund releases.
“We have been put on pressure and if we don’t have fund to pay those that require the stipend, the security environment in the Niger Delta will be uncontrollable and that’s my worst fear.
“We believe that a holistic approach to the Niger Delta problem has been taken,” Dokubo said.