The Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Colonel Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), says he is committed to rejigging the process of implementing the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP). This is to ensure that it does not derail from its original objectives of ensuring peace, fostering growth and forestalling the re-emergence of violence in the Niger-Delta region.
Speaking at the Presidential Amnesty headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday 7th October, 2020 during a round-table meeting with aggrieved student beneficiaries of the Office’s scholarship programme, Colonel Dikio (rtd) said that there was need for a more strategic approach towards addressing the resource-driven conflicts which necessitated the PAP, in order to achieve sustainable development of the region.
He further explained that the on-going verification exercise partly responsible for the delay in payment of in-training allowance and the main cause of agitation among some beneficiaries of the Scholarship segment of the programme is crucial in ensuring accountability, transparency and effective management of public resources and sought the cooperation and patience of the students.
He revealed that of the 1385 persons so far verified, 34 non-existent students of the programme to whom payments have already been made, have been identified through the verification exercise and urged bona fide students under the Office’s scholarship to assist in weeding out fake scholarship recipients from their midst by identifying and reporting them to verification officials.
As for the other category of aggrieved students yet to receive the in-training stipends due to discrepancies with their admission into the scholarship programme of the PAP, Colonel Dikio (rtd) promised to look into the problem, taking into account certain considerations like the circumstance of admission, supporting documents, number of years left before graduation and the cost implication to government.
He noted that contrary to accusations that the office is insensitive towards the plights of the aggrieved students, the PAP has consistently engaged them in dialogue as a means of resolving the issues and urged the students to ensure that all forms of threats and violence that will impede progress of the region is avoided. They should rather seek ways to contribute meaningfully and positively towards the attainment of peace and sustainable development of the Niger-Delta.
He added that going forward, the practice of processing the admission of the PAP scholarship beneficiaries into approved tertiary institutions in the country will be modified to allow recipients get more involved in the process of determining what courses they want to study and in what school. This is to prevent them from being spoon-fed and developing a false sense of entitlement.
The Student leaders of the Presidential Amnesty Programme who were represented by Somina Morrison Igani, Ayibaemi Princewill Bekeobiri, Zuobai Gabriel Oyin, Emmanuel Malvan Moses and Matthew Inialatarika Ogan admitted that their threat to block the East-West Road thereby disrupting the operations of all multi-national oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta Region in protest of their unpaid allowances was uncalled for. They promised to avoid, refrain from and prevent all acts and conducts either by omission or commission that will cause the breach of peace in the Niger Delta region, within and outside Nigeria so far as it concerns the affairs and relationships of students under the office of the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme.
The Presidential Amnesty Programme office while agreeing to work in synergy with all students of the PAP assured the students that any complaint and issue submitted to it by the students shall be investigated and resolved within a reasonable time. The office shall also ensure that all the necessary measures required to maintain peace and order of students of the PAP are provided as and when due.
The students thanked the Interim Administrator for his timely intervention, fatherly advice, and seamless efforts in ensuring that actions that could harm the Nigerian economy which is still in recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is averted.
Dibiaezue-Eke Florence (Mrs)