President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an additional N35 billion to the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, and an extra 5 billion naira added at some later stage, for the sustenance of the new understanding between the Federal Government and the oil-producing communities of the region. This has almost tripled the budget for an amnesty programme for militants in its oil producing Niger Delta region.
A statement from the office of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo reads
“Currently the Amnesty Office has now paid up all ex-militants backlog of their stipends up to the end of 2016. The release of the additional funds is coming after presidential level interactive engagements in the Niger Delta, where the Buhari administration has enunciated a New Vision for the oil-producing areas based on the presentation made by the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, to the President when he received leaders and stakeholders from the region last November.
Subsequently, the President asked his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to embark on a tour of the region that saw him visiting several oil-producing States in the country. Besides the monthly payment of about N65, 000 to N66,000 to the ex-militants, the funds would also go to the provision of reintegration activities under the Amnesty Programme including payment of tuition fees for beneficiaries from Niger Delta who are in post-secondary institutions at home and abroad, payment of in-training & hazard allowances and vocational training costs”.
This is viewed as a key factor in maintaining peace in the restive oil rich heartland where militants cut crude out put by as much as a third last year, by 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) to about 1.2 million bpd, from a high of about 2 million bpd.
Under the 2009 amnesty programme, each former militant is entitled to 65,000 naira a month plus job training. But in March a special adviser to Nigeria’s president said the programme was facing a cash crunch.
“Currently the Amnesty Office has now paid up all ex-militants backlog of their stipends up to the end of 2016,” the statement added.