By Yemi Akintomide
One of the remarkable achievements of former President Umaru Yar’ Adua as Nigeria President was the Amnesty given to ex-agitators in the Niger-Delta region on October 3, 2009. This bold step has since returned peace to the once troubled oil rich region and impacted greatly on oil explorations to an all-time output of over 2.8 million bpd from less down 800,000 bpd pre-Amnesty.
To maintain the prevailing peace and workable environment for oil and gas activities in the Niger-Delta, and keep the ex-agitators who were pulled out of the creeks, busy and productively engaged; an intervention programme codenamed Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) was put in place by the Presidency to cater for the welfare of the ex-agitators, postamnesty.
As part of the incentives for beneficiaries of the Federal Government intervention programme, a monthly stipend of N60,000 payable to each of the 30,000 ex-agitators of the 3 phases of the Amnesty Programme after the completion of the three stages of deharmament, demobilisation and disengagement (3Ds).
After the initial teething problems that came up before, during and after the execution of the 3Ds, the major challenge currently facing the managers of PAP through the office of the Interim Administrator (IA), Col. Milland Dikio (rtd.) is the payment mode to the ex-agitators which has continued to be a pain in the neck of the IA and the entire administrative structure of Presidential Amnesty Office.
The traditional system of payment of the stipends of the 30,000 ex-agitators before 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari led government debuted was through the Presidential Amnesty Office which then was directly under the Presidency. But now, the PAP office is put under the.supervision of the office of the National Security.Adviser (NSA).
Although, the payment is through the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, the mode of payment and the aftermath has continued to generate controversy among the delegates, their leaders and the PAP office.Take for instance, the reported recent payment of the sum of N2.63 billion to ten different personal accounts of some ex-agitators’ camp leaders between March and May 2021, by daily payment data from the Open Treasury Portal (OTP).
The payment system known as “bulk payment of stipends to camp leaders” where a lump sum is paid into a single account of an individual is very fraudulent and crude, as many genuine delegates are been cheated on, while fake delegates take their slots and the so called camp leaders continued to smile to the banks.
This singular corrupt system is the main albatrous to the smooth and peaceful execution of this laudable programme that has since 2011 returned peace to the Niger-Delta region and improved considerably both the foreign and internally generated revenues of our country through increase crude oil daily production.
From the data obtained from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), it revealed that, N1.6 billion was paid in March, N452.2 million in April, and N574.8 million in May, of which most payments were described as ‘bulk payment of stipends to camp leaders…’ and ‘bulk payment of stipends to ex-agitators for the month…’ as follows; Awotongha Princewill B – N99 million, Cyril Harry- N79.2 million, Dasimaka Adokiye Sami- N914.9 million, Ebikabowei Victor Ben- N716.9 million, and Harry Tonye Ikemenjeme- N197.4 million are among the names of individuals whose accounts were credited with the payments.
Others includes: Joseph Evah- N110.4 million, Odiki Jacob- N241.3 million, Reuben C. Wilson- N130.6 million, Sylvester A. Tambo- N10 million, and Torughedi Selky- N128.3 million. Dasimaka Adokiye Sami received the highest sum of N914.9 million as a stipend for 2,802 ex-militants in the Ateke Tom camp. Ateke Tom was the former leader of the Niger Delta Vigilante, a militant group in the Niger Delta region.
YEMI AKINTOMIDE, a journalist and public analyst wrote from Akure, Ondo State. +2348069204292