By Ndubuisi FrancisÂ in Abuja
Providing mass employment, infrastructure development including roads, bridges, schools, health centres, hospitals, pipe borne water and decent housing, among others are not part of the mandate of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), the Amnesty Office has said.
The Amnesty Office, in a statement captioned “The Presidential Amnesty Programme is not an omnibus Agency,” said it was inundated with demands especially by youths in the Niger Delta for mass employment, training and empowerment.
The statement issued by its Head, Media, Mr. Owei Lakemfa said “some apply to it as a scholarship scheme through which their not misplaced dream of tertiary education, even abroad, can be met. There are also those who demand of it infrastructural development including the provisionÂ of roads, bridges, schools, health centres, hospitals, pipe borne water and decent housing.”
The statement said while these were desirable, “the Presidential Amnesty Office wishes to clarify that these are not part of its mandate, and it has no appropriation for such programmes and projects in the Niger Delta. Properly placed, these are the mandate of other agencies.”
It added that the mandate of the Presidential Amnesty Office was to cater for the beneficiaries who took the Presidential Amnesty proclaimed by the late President Yarâ€™Adua administration, and, sustainably reintegrate them into society to ensure peace in the Niger Delta.
Â “The appropriation for the Amnesty Office is to pay monthly stipends, fund the tertiary education of those on the Amnesty scholarship in tertiary institutions and those undergoing professional and vocational trainingÂ and run a lean administration,” the statement explained.
It noted that there had been some delays in paying stipends, school fees and in-training-allowances to beneficiaries, attributing this to the fact that office got its funds from the national budget which had to be appropriated by the National Assembly.Â
“With the 2017 Budget being passedÂ about mid-year, it means that there are bound to be payment delays. However to lessen the burden of beneficiaries, the Office had approached the federal government for loans which had been used to offset some payments. “Happily, with the signing of the National Budget, payment of stipends have resumed as well as payment of fees to Amnesty students in the country and abroad. The Amnesty Office thanks beneficiaries and the people of the Niger Delta for their understanding and patience which has led to continuous peace in the Niger Delta,” the statement added.