House C’ttee Calls for Increase in Budgetary Allocation to Presidential Amnesty Programme

Juliet Akoje in Abuja

The House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Affairs yesterday called for an increase in the budgetary allocation to the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).

The lawmakers made the call while meeting with the officials of the PAP at the headquarters in Abuja.

The Interim Administrator, Maj-Gen. Barry Ndiomu (rtd), lamented that the value of the annual budget of PAP had depreciated by a whopping $105,000 since last year when the naira began to slump against the dollar at both official and parallel markets with consequential impacts on the programme’s policies and activities.

The visiting lawmakers led by the Chairman, Hon. Eugene Dibiagwu, promised to interface with their colleagues to find common grounds to address the funding gap in the amnesty programme.

The lawmakers said a representation would be made to President Bola Tinubu with a view to drawing executive attention to consider an increase of the annual budget of the PAP to reflect the present economic realities.

 Following a presentation by the interim administrator, the parliamentarians in their separate remarks, expressed admiration in the application of good judgment and the judicious deployment of scarce resources in meeting the programme’s increasing obligations.

The lawmakers further commended Ndiomu and his management team for what they described as a rare display of character and leadership quality in managing one of the most challenging public agencies in the country.

According to him, “We hereby say the designation of interim administrator be changed to a substantive chief executive of this programme, and we encourage him to work closely with the House Committee to enable us collectively address those obvious challenges of the programme.”

Dibiagwu earlier explained that the House Committee on the Niger Delta embarked on the visit to the PAP to interact with the interim administrator and his team on issues of the PAP mandate, mission and vision, policies, programmes, and projects as well as the impact of its activities on the ex-agitators who are the direct beneficiaries of the programme.

Other areas of interest, according to the lawmaker are: “Achievements of the PAP in intervention activities, prospects for the future and overall composition of management and staff as well as any other business that might arise in the course of the engagement.”

In his presentation, Ndiomu gave a detailed account of activities since his assumption as chief executive in September 2022 and declared that the purse of the PAP is currently stretched to the limits due to the forex challenges.

This, he said, has made the cost of both local and foreign education and other training schemes highly exorbitant.

According to him, the PAP is in partnership with 18 universities and 61 non-partnering universities onshore.

He stated that a total of 1,659 students’ beneficiaries under the PAP scholarship scheme had graduated from offshore universities even as the programme has trained more than 19,000 beneficiaries in vocational skills.

Ndiomu further explained that he inherited a N41 billion debt linked to projects in vocational trainings and empowerment from between 2017 to 2019 and another N14 billion debt from unpaid stipends to beneficiaries and has since offset the latter.

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