2017: FG offsets salary arrears of ex-militants

THE Federal Government has paid two out of four months outstanding stipends owed former Niger Delta militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

Mr Ramsey Mukoro, leader of the 3rd phase of the amnesty programme, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Saturday that some former agitators had received two out of four months’ salary backlog.

“The Amnesty Office has started paying but my third phase people have yet to get alerts, we are hoping that we in the third phase will benefit as well.

“It has really been difficult for us and we spent Christmas and New Year on an empty stomach; they should try and make it go round,’’ Mukoro said.

Mr Piriye Kiyaramo, the Liaison Officer at the Bayelsa Office of the Presidential Amnesty Office, told NAN that the Amnesty office began the payment after the new year holidays.

“The office commenced payment of the outstanding stipends this week after the new year, precisely on Wednesday.

“The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, retired Brig.- General Paul Boroh was concerned about the welfare of beneficiaries in the programme.

“He would stop at nothing until a sustainable reintegration of the ex-agitators into the society with sustainable source of livelihood,’’ he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Amnesty Programme Office has commenced verification of former agitators to ascertain the exact number of ex-militants expected in the programme as part of its exit plans.

The Coordinator, Boroh (retd) said this in an interview with the NAN, on Saturday, in Abuja.

Boroh, reiterated government’s commitment to the training and empowerment of all beneficiaries captured under the programme.

He, however disclosed that more than 3,010 delegates recently exited the programme and had been empowered.

“Exiting from the programme is as a result of empowerment and delegates are given starter packs for their businesses.

“The office trains the ex-militants in various vocational skill centres and educational institutions in Nigeria and abroad,” he said.

According to him, the mandate of the office is not to provide jobs, but to train and reintegrate the ex-militants.

“Well, some people could argue that getting jobs for them is part of reintegration. We have to look into that to see how we can get these persons properly reintegrated,” Boroh said.

The presidential aide said that 200 ex-agitators had graduated from an advanced agriculture training at the Bio Resource Centre in Odi, Bayelsa State.

“We will explore the opportunity provided by the Federal Government so that our delegates that had been trained can be gainfully employed,’’ he said.

Boroh said that agriculture should be encouraged at all levels of national life so that the country could become a multicultural economy that depends less on oil.

He said youth unemployment remained a major challenge in the Niger Delta, and assured that the government would resuscitate the moribund industrial complexes in the region.

According to him, some of the industries include the Aluminium Smelting Company in Akwa Ibom and the Aladja Steel in Delta state.

“These would provide employment for tens of thousands of youths in the Niger Delta,” Boroh said.

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