President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele to ensure the outstanding tuition, stipends and allowances of all amnesty beneficiaries were paid without further delay.
This is as the European Union (EU) has strengthened its partnership with the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, under which the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) is domiciled, to seek ways of ensuring that the programmes meets up with its mandate.
This was confirmed in a statement yesterday by the Head of Communications, Amnesty Office, Mr. Daniel Alabra.
Following the directive, Alabra said, the CBN has successfully credited the accounts of students in the following 10 institutions: Nilai University, Malaysia, universities of Strathclyde, Westminster and Dundee in UK, Liberty University, Virginia, USA, New York Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, Lynn University, USA, Edinburgh University, UK, and University of Essex.
He said that the process is ongoing and should be completed in a few days.
He also said that the Special Adviser and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd), expressed appreciation to President Buhari for offering to step in and resolve the logjam in the payment of the outstanding allowances.
The PAP coordinator said the President’s directive is a further demonstration of his commitment to a peaceful Niger Delta and the empowerment of youths of the region through the PAP’s vocational and educational training schemes.
The EU also disclosed that it had expended $500million for the development of the Niger-Delta region in the past 10 years
The delegation of the EU to Nigeria and Minister Counsellor/ Head of Co-operation, Mr. Brian O’Neil disclosed this when he visited Boroh for continued collaboration with the Amnesty Office.
O’Neil promised to continue partnership with the Office to advance peace and progress in the region.
He said that Niger-Delta stability was very important to the overall development of the country, as Nigeria cannot afford to have another crisis brewing in the oil producing region.
“For the success of Amnesty programme which maintains stability in the Niger Delta, we agree with you that the programme needs to be sustained in order to maintain peace in the Niger Delta. Nigeria is already grappling with enough security challenges that it can’t afford to have another one in the Niger Delta. A lot of help is needed in the region.”
The Head of EU Delegation however clarified that their cooperation with Nigeria was not limited to the Niger-Delta region alone but all 36 states and six geo-political zones of the country with special focus on Boko Haram-ravaged North-east.
“We actually have programmes in the 36 states of Nigeria with different areas of impact. We have also shifted focus to the North-eastern region. But for the insurgency, in the past, we have done various programmes in the North like polio eradication”, O’Neil noted.
On a national level, he said, they had also assisted in the electoral issue, donating about $50 million for the last general elections, and also worked in the area of corruption and migration.
Also speaking, Boro said that the Office had resolved with the CBN challenges in the payment of tuition and allowances of the ex-Niger Delta militants, particularly of the delegates studying in foreign institutions.
He said that together with the Apex bank, the payment backlog and debts owed to the beneficiaries which was delayed “as a result of the bottle neck caused by the TSA has been resolved”.
Boroh assured that the process to clear the backlog of stipends was ongoing as he was determined to offset all outstanding payments to all former agitators and beneficiaries in the programme.
He said: “Following the completion of the in-house verification of claims, the Special Adviser has since signed and approved the payment of all outstanding tuition and allowances of the 3,074 beneficiaries in onshore and offshore educational institutions.
“Already, the tuition of 1,620 of the beneficiaries in Nigerian institutions have been paid just as they have all received their in-training allowances for May and June 2015.”
Similarly, he added, the approval and documentation process for their 1,454 counterparts in offshore institutions have also been completed and sent to the CBN, which handles the foreign exchange transaction process, and “has been resolved”.
At the moment, he disclosed, the CBN in conjunction with the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation is processing the required cash backing to effect the necessary foreign exchange transaction for the offshore delegates. This, he noted, is in accordance with the strict implementation of the new directive on the Single Treasury Account (TSA).