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FG to save N5bn on Amnesty exit plan

By The Citizen

The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh (retd.) said on Monday that the implementation of an exit plan aimed at winding up the programme. would save the government   over N5bn in stipend payments.

Over 3,000 beneficiaries would exit the programme, which was set up five years ago for the rehabilitation of ex-militants in the Niger Delta. It was scheduled to wind up in December last year. Its rounding-off was, however, extended due to the absence of an exit plan.

Boroh said that on his resumption in office in June last year, he developed a template that would ensure the winding up of the programme.

The retired military officer said a task force had been set up to work out and implement the exit plan with a timeline to ensure that national security was not compromised.

According to him, over 17,000 ex-agitators who voluntarily surrendered their arms had been trained and rehabilitated.

However, he said additional 12, 678 ex-militants yet to benefit from the programme would be trained before the final exit in two years time.

Boroh said, 'The Presidential Amnesty Programme will be exiting 3, 232 beneficiaries from the programme. They have been trained as entrepreneurs and have received business and starter packs.

'Also affected are all beneficiaries of the Oil and Gas International Foundation (OGIF) programme and the 400 for whom the office has secured employment for. Exiting the 3,232 beneficiaries, will save for government in 2016 N2,520,960,000 in stipend payments. A second batch of 1,042 who are currently being given starter packs to establish their individual businesses are soon to be exited from the programme which will result in a further N812,760,000 savings for government this year.

'Depending on the budgetary allocation and release, Amnesty Office plans to exit an additional 2,958 beneficiaries by the end of this year, which would amount to a N2,307,240,000 savings that would otherwise have been spent on stipends payments.'

Explaining the importance of the plan, Boroh said that the 'exercise is a significant step in the five-year Amnesty Programme which had never exited any of the 30,000 beneficiaries. It is also part of the exit strategies of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. So far, the Amnesty programme has trained 17,322 of the beneficiaries leaving a balance of 12, 678. Additionally, it has embarked on the domestication of all its programmes.

'Currently, five of its 49 training centres are offshore while it has students in 31 tertiary institutions abroad. With effect from the 2015/16 session, 95 per cent of the student deployment was for local institutions.

He also said that the amnesty programme had in the past five years, secured admission and gave scholarships to 5, 234 beneficiaries in tertiary institutions.

According to him, out of the number, 3,082 gained admission to schools in the country, 2,150 abroad, while 272 graduated.

Boroh disclosed that the Federal Government would soon begin the clean-up of Ogoniland in the next one month with the support from various governments including that of the United Kingdom, United States of America, Israel and China. Punch