Amnesty programme is broke —Coordinator

The Federal Government-initiated amnesty programme, aimed at providing vocational training and stipends to former militants to stop restiveness and further attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region, may be heading for the rock as it is reportedly broke.

Special Adviser to the President and coordinator of the amnesty programme, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh, who made the disclosure, also said the Presidential Amnesty Office is currently struggling with a shortfall of funds.

Each of the former militants who willingly surrendered their arms and embraced the programme was entitled to 65,000 naira as monthly stipends, in addition to vocational training and tertiary education, either within or outside the country, for the beneficiaries.

While crude oil production had since been on the increase, Boroh, on Thursday, admitted that the Amnesty Office is facing problem of inadequate funding, disclosing that tuition fees of ex-militants studying in local and international universities had not been paid.

Boroh, who said most vocational training, affecting 1,770 participants, had stopped, added, “The main challenge the Presidential Amnesty Office has faced is inadequate funds. Inadequate funding has also limited the capacity of the office to empower delegates and exit them from the programme,” said Boroh.

The presidential aide on amnesty said the situation was being reversed, with the release of more funds to the amnesty office, but he was not forthcoming on when the funds would be released.

It will be recalled that the government has been in talks with militants to end the attacks which cut Nigeria’s output by 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) for several months in 2016, reducing total production at that time to about 1.2 million bpd.

The damage from attacks on the oil industry exacerbated a downturn in its economy, regarded as the largest in Africa but which slipped into recession in 2016 for the first time in 25 years, largely due to low oil prices.