The Interim Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Colonel Millhand Dixon Dikio (rtd), has lamented the degrading effect of corruption on the core mandate of the programme.
Dikio, who spoke to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday said a lot had gone wrong with the running, saying it is indebted to the tune of N71.4 billion to contractors.
According to him, the current pass of the programme had been blamed on the pervasive effect of inadequate funding and corruption, noting that though it had been run, though out of the original plan, for eleven years, it had failed to yield the targeted results.
“However, immediately after the disarmament phase, challenges, including endemic corruption, cropped in and derailed the programme.
“Lack of enough funds and corruption were blamed for impeding the effective operationalization of the programme”, he said.
He further said “regrettably, the programme has now been running for 11 years without the desired benefits delivered to the ex-agitators.
“Rather, the ex-agitator database was dishonestly corrupted, and several contracts were awarded in total disregard of need and procurement processes.
“Consequently, the programme is currently owing contractors the sum of N71,411,646,210.68. This informed Mr. President’s decision to overhaul the programme aimed at ensuring that the dividends of the Amnesty Programme reaches its original target beneficiaries”, he said.
He further affirmed that the ultimate success of the Amnesty Programme lies in its ability to move ex-agitators from their previous lifestyles to sustainable livelihoods, as peaceful members of their communities and net contributors to the economy.
According to him, “this is why the programme of package designed to address the development and security issues in the region.”
While noting that not much progress has been made in the demobilization and reintegration, he averred that the programme is not sustainable in its current form.
Continuing, he said: “Reports have shown that not much progress has been recorded in some aspects of the demobilization and reintegration components of the programme.
“To address this, the need to focus on education and vocational training in ways that the benefits are channelled through a transparent, accountable, corrupt-free and institutionalized
process is imperative.
“The programme, as currently structured, is not sustainable and
cannot deliver the desired long-term benefit to the region and the country.
“Consistent with the strategic objectives of the federal government, the vision of the administrator is to refocus the Amnesty Programme to its original mandate of development and security of the Niger Delta region”, he said.
Also speaking, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), said even though the programme was set up to redress observed problems facing Niger Delta, arising from ecology and security, among others, it has been subsumed in unrelated issues.
“The predatory instincts of certain individuals came into the fore and the programme was turned upside down and as a result of this, like the administrator has just said, there was a lot of corruption, waste and mismanagement within this period. N712 billion was basically unaccounted for and this was due to so many issues- corruption being at the fore.
“Now we realize that if the focus of the people who are supposed to drive this programme is to capsize the programme by allowing their own personal interest to come in, then we are all going to be in trouble because if the Niger Delta is in trouble, consequently it will extend to the rest of the federation.
“Therefore, I had to take this step to advise Mr President that this waste could not go on. This programme is not supposed to be an open-ended one. There is no place on the surface of this earth where programmes that are supposed to be a palliative will continue forever, at the end of the day becoming a big problem and entanglement for the government.
“Therefore, we decided to take immediate action by bringing in someone who can take a deep look at this programme, a person with vast experience, and we all know the experience of Col Dikio in this type of issue”, he said.