President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an additional N35 billion for the rehabilitation of former Niger Delta militants through the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), to enable it to fulfill its mandate.
Although the government approved N20 billion for the Programme in the 2016 budget, President Buhari has now raised the budget to N55 billion with a recent release of N30 billion.
A statement from the presidency noted that there is also a planned release of an additional N5 billion later.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Amnesty Office announced that it has paid up all former militants the 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 enunciated a New Vision for the oil-producing areas based on the presentation made by the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, to the President when he received leaders and stakeholders from the region last November.
Subsequently, the President asked his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to embark on a tour of the region. This saw Osinbajo visiting all the states in the region, where he sought to reassure stakeholders of the government’s commitment to the development of the region.
Besides the monthly payment of between N65, 000 and N66,000 to the former militants, the funds would also finance reintegration activities, including payment of tuition fees for Niger Delta students who are in post-secondary institutions at home and abroad, payment of in-training and hazard allowances and vocational training costs.
There are also empowerment schemes, self-employment support funds, including the provision of equipment by the Amnesty Office.
Equally, the funds would also support the training of pilots, aviation engineers, technicians, and motor vehicles mechanics from the oil-producing communities.
The Buhari administration has reassured the Niger Delta communities of its unalloyed commitment to a faithful implementation of its promises made during the visits by the Vice President to different oil-producing communities
Other promises made during the visits are currently at different stages of effective implementation, including 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.
On Friday, President Buhari ordered the Maritime University be opened before the end of the year.
The Vice-President heads an inter-ministerial group consisting of all relevant ministries, departments, and agencies, MDAs, relevant state governments that meet regularly to drive the different initiatives and ensure effective implementation.