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Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brigadier-General Paul Tarela Boroh (retd), has said those calling for his sack are those no longer benefiting from the system to the detriment of those the programme is meant for.
He said this at the weekend while fielding questions from State House correspondents in Abuja.
Some ex-agitators recently called for his sack, accusing him of mortgaging their future.
Some of the ex-agitators, who protested at Opokuma Junction axis of East-West Road and Igbogene gateway, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, alleged that the programme has been hijacked by northerners, citing a lack of consultation, nonperformance and diversion of funds meant for the implementation of the programme by officials.
But Boroh said, “I want to let you know that what is happening in the Amnesty Programme is no more business as usual – that is the bottom line of all that is happening. The programme actually is a security programme that has to do with critical stakeholders who drive the process. I’m only there to supervise what they are doing so that we can achieve the aim for which the programme was established, to ensure youth restiveness is not allowed and ensure peace and stability of the Niger Delta region.”
According to him, the Federal Government has so far offered employment to 350 ex-agitators from the Niger Delta region, who have since graduated from various tertiary institutions across the world.
He added that the 350 graduates were among the about 30,000 ex-agitators sponsored for various studies abroad by the amnesty office.
Boroh added that the affected ex-agitators had already been posted to various federal ministries awaiting approval of the 2018 appropriation bill by the National Assembly.
“The Federal Government ensured that about 350 of them have been employed in the various ministries in the country.
“We are only waiting for appropriation so that once they report to their various ministries they will start earning their salaries.”
The presidential aide described as untrue and false reports that some of the ex-agitators studying abroad had been abandoned following the failure of the amnesty office to pay their school fees and allowances.
“I will never allow any of my children schooling outside this country under government (sponsorship) to suffer.
“So as we speak 96 per cent of those on off-shore scholarship have graduated and returned home.
“I have only a few, in fact not more than 10,000 of them left in the entire globe where they have been schooling in the US, UK, Asian countries and South Africa – they have graduated and have come home.
“The ones that refused to graduate and are trying to make life unbearable for themselves is their own cup of tea.
“The Federal Government is not responsible for them anymore,” Boroh said.
No date has been fixed for the collapse of the amnesty programme, according to Boroh, adding that his office was in the process of achieving sustainable reintegration of the ex-agitators in the programme.
His task is to continue to ensure peace and stability in the Niger Delta region, he said.
“We have achieved 96 per cent. We have only few left, from the 30,000, we have a balance of about 10,000 left that need to be reintegrated and we are looking at Mr. President’s vision of alternatives to our oil in reintegrating our youths, that has to do with agriculture and that is the focus of the programme now. We are focusing on agriculture as a way of life for the youth in the Niger Delta region.
“We have gone so far that most of the youths have also bought into the idea and initiative; as a way of creating job opportunities, as a way to ensure food security in the region and, again, to develop their financial positions as they sell their farm products,” Boroh explained.