By Chinyere Amalu
ABUJA â€” The Federal Government yesterday declared that N6.5 billion would be spent as the monthly allowance to the ex-militants in the Niger Delta region who have accepted the amnesty annually.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, who stated this at a breakfast meeting with members of Diplomatic Corps, in Abuja said ex-militant was entitled to a monthly stipend of N65,000 for general upkeep.
Maduekwe who addressed the envoys jointly with his colleagues in the Ministries of Defence, Niger Delta and Informational and Communication, Major-General Godwin Abbe, Chief Ufot Ekaette and Professor Dora Akunyili respectively, said government might not achieve 100 per cent disarmament and demobilisation.
He said the challenge of Niger Delta crisis had been a critical area of engagement in the countryâ€™s foreign relations, and the oil and gas from the region were not only vital to Nigeriaâ€™s economy but also of strategic interest to the international community.
According to him, amnesty implementation committee is prepared and ready to embark on the logistical next step, the rehabilitation and re-integration stage of President Umaru Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s comprehensive programme for the Niger Delta.
He appealed to international community that this was not the time to sit and watch but the moment to engage with the different peace efforts and support both government and non-government efforts to bring peace to the Niger Delta.
He said: â€œWe are the first to agree that these are early times but the process has begun, the follow through is important and with hands held together we can only move the process forward.
â€œThe end of the amnesty period does not in any way signify there is nothing more to do about the real work of transforming the region into a model of development. That aspect of the process must pick up momentum now and government is fully committed to that,â€ he said.
Responding, the Ambassador of France, Jean Michel said France had confidence in Nigeria and hoped that would be a new beginning and there are French companies operating in Niger Delta who give N90 million yearly for the development of the region.