The decision of the Federal Government to seize N26bn belonging to the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) under the guise of unspent budgetary provision has caused ripples in the Niger Delta region.
It was gathered that the Amnesty Office was at the verge of concluding a process to withdraw the money and pay humungous debt owed by the programme when the federal government return the money to its coffers.
The amnesty office was said to be hoping on the money to pay part of the over N72bn it owed contractors, some of whom it had verified and okayed for payment.
The Interim Administrator, PAP, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd) had when touring the Niger Delta promised to pay verified contractors owed by the amnesty programme and carry out some quick-win projects aimed at returning the programme to the region in line with the mandate given to him by President Muhammadu Buhari.
But while Dikio was said to have verified some of the contractors and approved them for payment hoping to secure the amnesty’s N26bn, the money was suddenly returned to the government’s coffers by the Ministry of Finance.
Stakeholders from the Niger Delta region including influential organisations and ex-militant leaders were said to be warming up for major showdown with the government over the development.
A prominent Niger Delta leader, who spoke in confidence, saying he was monitoring the situation, wondered why the federal government would employ a man with a vision to make a difference and set him up to fail.
He said: “We are surprised at this current development. This is the first time we have seen commitment on the part of the manager of the PAP to execute the original intent of the programme.
“He came to the region, met with all critical stakeholders and stopped ongoing plans by aggrieved persons to foment troubles. He made some promises including payment of contractors owed over the years by the amnesty office.
“But we wonder how he will be able to fulfill these promises without money. We are aware that since he assumed office, Dikio has not received money from the federal government.
“He was expecting this money to drop in the amnesty’s account to enable him undertake the mandate of the President when the money was suddenly seized by the ministry. This is not acceptable.
“We are calling on the federal government especially on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the ministry of finance to release this N26bn belonging to the amnesty office. If the people lose confidence in Dikio, they will surely resume disturbance, that can affect the oil production of the region”.
It was further learnt that the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide and other organisations representing most of the ethnic nationalities were preparing for a showdown with the federal government if it failed to release the money to the amnesty office.