The Senate Committee on Niger Delta has said the two installments of N5 billion released to the Amnesty Office, out of the N65 billion allocated for the Presidential Amnesty Programme in the 2018 budget, is “grossly inadequate.”
The committee also said that due to the pivotal role the amnesty programme plays in the stability of the Niger Delta region, the amnesty office cannot be starved of funds.
The senate committee stated this when they visited the Office of the Special Adviser to the President and Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo’s in Abuja, on Tuesday.
Senator Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai, vice chairman of the committee, who led the delegation, said the significance of the amnesty programme towards maintaining peace and security in the Niger Delta, was such that the programme needed to be well funded.
“There are points which I did not make while I was making this presentation. Some of them actually came up as a result of Prof. Charles Dokubo’s presentation. It was while making this presentation that this committee became aware of the fact that you (Amnesty Office) got only N5 billion, twice, out of the N65b allocated to you in the 2018 budget. Five billion nairatranslates to approximately 7.7 per cent; which is grossly inadequate.”
He added that the oversight visit, which is the first since the senate committee was inaugurated was necessary to know the situation of things at the amnesty office.
“This kind of situation underscores the need for an interactive session like this so that we can put pressure on the Ministry of Finance and those that are involved in the release of funds. Amnesty programme is a very important programme of this government. From the Yar’Adua administration up till now, it has brought down the temperature in the Niger Delta; because of that, whenever you are having these kinds of challenges, make us know as a committee so that we can intervene.
“We are here to share with you some of your experiences in the various departments, to formally interact with you about the activities of your office.
In his remarks, Dokubo, reiterated President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to turn around the Niger Delta region and promised to ensure the success of the amnesty programme.
“I will work hard to make sure that the Amnesty Programme attains the mission and objective for which it has been created. I’m happy that you are here to rub minds with us and I believe that as you go back to your office, you will see the challenges that we face and in whichever way you can help us, I’ll plead with you not to hesitate to help us because we don’t have releases.”