House C’ttee: N450bn Expended on Amnesty Programme

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Alaibe: Programme deviated from original plan 
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
 
The House of Representatives Joint Committee on Public Procurement and Niger Delta Affairs has disclosed that about N450 billion has so far been expended in the Niger Delta region, under the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), with the intention to restore peace and develop the region.
The committee at the first day of the investigative hearing into alleged violations of the Public Procurement Act, by PAP, yesterday however noted that the funds did not yield the expected results, as restiveness has since returned to the region.
This is as ex-militants alleged that the programme was characterised by favourtism as those in charge of the programme gave training slots and other preferential treatments to their friends and families.
The hearing had in attendance the former Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta/Coordinator of PAP, Mr. Timi Alaibe, former Directors of Procurement in the programme, and representatives of some of the contractors.
The immediate past Special Adviser on Niger Delta/Coordinator of PAP, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, was absent at the hearing. He did not send any representative or formal communication to the committee.
In the course of questioning a former Director of Procurement of the PAP, Mr. Durojaiye OlaTikolo, the committee heard that some of the companies which undertook contracts for the PAP, were unregistered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Several of the companies were also not complaint with their tax remittances, and pension deductions.
Tikolo, who held the position from 2010-2015, initially insisted that all the companies engaged, conformed with the basic requirements of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
When confronted with documentation from the CAC, Pension Commission, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other relevant agencies, Tikolo said due to emergency tendering of the contracts, the PAP could not verify all the claims of the contractors. 
He, however, explained that all contracted firms were required to swear to affidavits, that their papers for the minimum requirements of the Public Procurement Act, were genuine and in order.
Tikolo added that the programme engaged companies that were already working in the region due to the challenges of kidnapping and vandalism faced by contractors.
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Wole Oke, however expressed displeasure at Tikolo’s justification of engaging firms that did not meet the basic requirements stipulated by the PPA.
“The fact that you are procuring under emergency does not say you should engage companies that did not meet requirements. Are you saying the situation, no matter how it is, allows you to engage companies that are not incorporated?” he said.
Hon. Solomon Maren (Plateau PDP) said the N450 billion spent in the region failed to quell the restiveness because due process was not followed in its expenditure.
He added that Tikolo was supposed to guide the programme, to adhere to the public procurement requirements. 
In his submission, the pioneer Coordinator of the PAP, Mr. Timi Alaibe, noted that the implementation of the amnesty programme, deviated from the original plan which had five objectives.
Alaibe outlines the initial objectives as Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) of militants, critical infrastructure and economic development, environmental remediation (in line with UNEP report), involvement of Niger Delta communities in the proceeds of oil assets, and involvement of host communities in the protection and surveillance of oil assets.
He charged the committee to investigate why those aspects of the PAP were not implemented.
“This has brought us back to where we are today. We wrote the protocols and we are also interested in why it was not followed,” Alaibe said.
Meanwhile some ex-militants present at the hearing noted that the programme was fraught with corruption and embezzlement.
An ex-militant, Mr. Morrocco Wilfred, blamed leaders from the region, for its under-development.
“There is money in the Amnesty office, you will not see the money. They refused to document us since 2011, but it is only if you have godfather, they pick you for training,” he said.
Another ex-militant, Mr. David Ogwepke, also said: “They share the money among themselves, and give slots to their families. The main agitators are sidelined, they turned amnesty programme into a political programme.”