From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
There is palpable anxiety in the Niger Delta region over the decision of the Federal Government to shut the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
PAP was introduced in 2009 as part of the conditions reached between the Federal Government and ex-militants who surrendered their weapons to embrace the amnesty offered by the late President Umaru Musa YarAdua.
Speculations had been rife that the former Interim Administrator, Col Midland Dikio (retd) was unceremoniously removed from office over his reluctance to commence the winding up of the programme.
Sources in the Presidency said the new Interim Administrator, Major- General Barry Tariye Ndiomu(retd) was given the mandate to shut down the programme.
According to investigations the Federal Government has decided to shut down the programme by December 31, 2022.
To this end it has instructed that all process of contract award and offering of scholarship be stopped forthwith.
Sources at the Amnesty Office said the Federal Government has commence the process to engage an audit firm for a comprehensive audit of all programmes carried by PAP
The purpose of the audit firm is to ascertain the number of programmes undertaken and the amount spent on the programme and each of the components.
It is also to identify the number of ex-agitators trained and category of eligible beneficiaries and the number of ex-agitators in various training institutions.
The audit is also expected to list the number of leaders, their beneficiaries and monthly stipends as well as the debt profile.
As part of the winding up process it was gathered that the office has been directed to propose a mechanism for the settlement of outstanding debts, take inventory and compile the list of all movable and immovable property by the end of the year.
Findings indicated that the Federal Government, aware that its decision to wind up the programme would attract backlash, has mandated the Amnesty Office also to embark on holistic consultation/engagement of critical stakeholders and public enlightenment on the need to wind down the programme before the end of the year.
Several stakeholders had warned the Federal Government against wind-up the programme over fears that it could trigger another round of agitation in the Niger Delta region .