The Amnesty Office has said it is expecting the Federal Government to roll over unspent N26bn balance of its 2020 budget to enable it quickly meet up with its outstanding obligations.
The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) spoke in reaction to a viral report that the Niger Delta region was unsettled following the decision of the government to seize the programme’s N26bn under the guise of unspent budgetary provisions.
Dikio in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media, Nneotaobase Egbe, however, clarified that the money was not seized by the federal government but that it was mopped up on December 31, 2021as part of the government’s financial process.
The statement insisted that PAP was not singled out for such exercise as it was customary for unspent money across the ministries, parastatals and agencies to be returned to the federal government’s coffers in line with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.
According to PAP, the office had earlier written to the Accountant-General’s office on the need to roll over the money and release it to PAP to enable the programme meet all outstanding obligations tied to the money in the budgetary year.
Dikio explained that since PAP was a special programme on national security, the programme should be considered for an exclusive rollover of its unspent budget adding that all the money had been tied to specific activities necessary to maintain the peace in the Niger Delta.
He said: “In order to reduce the debts owed several contractors since 2014, a payment plan that was sequential was initiated starting with the oldest debt in consideration of vendors’ interest payments on loans secured from banks to execute their contracts. A total of 104 such debts based on our records of the level of job completion have been paid as of December 31, 2021.
“Other verified payments could not be made before December 31, 2021 because PAP’s funds for September/October allocation and November/December allocation were received on the 28th of December 2020 and 29th December 2020, respectively.
“In compliance with the Federal Government’s anti-corruption and extant financial regulations, our system was only able to disburse a portion of these funds before the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account was automatically shut down.
“The Accountant-General of the Federation was promptly notified of the need to roll over these funds and in response to mandatory queries, the Minister of Finance has been notified on the need to release the funds to enable PAP to promptly meet its financial obligations to contractors handling training and empowerment contracts”.
It was gathered that the development made it impossible for the amnesty office to meet up with the payment of ex-militants’ allowances for January in line with Dikio’s promise that ex-agitators would receive their allowances on the 25th of each month.
Ex-militants had vowed to block the Mbiama axis of the East-West Road to protest the non-payment of their January allowances.
But Dikio urged the ex-agitators to sheathe their swords saying that PAP was committed to resolving all the issues to urgently meet up with its obligations.
Dikio said: “PAP is committed to prudently dispensing its financial obligations based on extant financial regulations. We therefore urge our ex-agitators/delegates and communities and contractors to remain calm.
“We are sure that these issues would be resolved speedily, and PAP would receive exclusive rollover of funds going forward to avoid this type of situation in the future.
“PAP remains committed to restoring payment of stipends on the 25th of every month once the bumps are cleared.”