Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
Even though the federal government spent a whopping N243 billion on the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) in the Niger Delta from 2010 to 2014, the programme has yet to achieve its objectives, a report by an international development firm has said.
The report by Nextier Security, Peace and Development (SPD) described the programme as too expensive to maintain and marred by corruption and patrimonial sentiment.
The report, which was unveiled in Abuja yesterday, noted that the amnesty programme had failed to achieve its mandate despite gulping a whopping sum of N243 billion between 2010 and 2014 alone.
Consequently, the report urged the federal government to devolve the activities of the programme into state oil commissions, noting that the amnesty programme was the most expensive of such initiatives in the world.
Specifically, the report admitted that the programme was too expensive to maintain, as well as being marred by corruption, nepotism, prebendal and patrimonial sentiments, the organisation said the report was to trigger debate on the programme after 10 years of its operation.
Like most bureaucratic institutions nationwide, the report noted that the amnesty programme “now suffers from lack of transparency, consistency, and effective management of resources.”
Although 20,000 beneficiaries had gone through various formal education and vocational training programmes under the initiative, to address the feeling of exclusion, the report said the plight of excluded people and ravaged communities should be factored into the transition.
The report explained that corruption should be significantly reduced through effective oversight functions, deployment of robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms as well as prosecution of those indicted for corruption.
It noted that innovative strategies “must be used to get jobs for those who have trained in order to prevent them from relapse into violent crimes in their quest for socio-economic survival.
“There should be opening up of the space for private, non-oil businesses and not-for-profit sectors to participate and contribute to the programme. This will promote the integration of those trained on the programme and boost acceptability of the programme by international actors.”
At the unveiling of the report, the Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Charles Achodo observed that the programme had not addressed the development agitations that led to its establishment.
According to him, emphasis should now be on the development of the region in the transition phase of the programme. It is the only sustainable way to stop restiveness in the region.
At the unveiling of the report, all speakers agreed that the programme needed to be reviewed since it had not achieved the main reason for which the federal government initiated it in 2009.
In his remark yesterday, Principal Partner, Nextier SPD, Mr. Patrick Okigbo, however warned against ending the programme, saying it would have an adverse impact on the relative peace currently enjoyed in the region.
He said Nigeria neither has the capacity nor the infrastructure to sustain its growing population, given the current crisis in the oil market, noting that a crisis in the Niger Delta would put the country in a precarious situation.
He, also, argued that the amnesty programme cannot continue forever, saying that there has to be a risk assessment of the situation before any further action is taken.
Also at the unveiling, the special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Charles Achodo said the amnesty programme had not addressed the development agitations that led to its establishment.
According to him, emphasis should now be on the development of the region in the transition phase of the programme, noting that it was the only sustainable way to stop restiveness in the region.