- Says no amount is too much to pay for N-Delta peace
By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
The Federal Government said, yesterday, it has so far invested N243 billion in the implementation of the Amnesty Programme for Niger Delta ex-militants.
The amount, according to the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, is far from the N400 billion being bandied about by enemies of the administration as the money spent by the Federal Government on the programme.
Kuku, who addressed the media in Abuja, insisted, however, that no amount was too much to be paid by the Federal Government to secure, deepen and guarantee peace in the oil-bearing Niger Delta.
Kuku said that Nigerians should be grateful to the Federal Government for instituting the Amnesty programme, which has drastically curtailed unrest in the Niger Delta and brought about a significant increase in oil production in Nigeria and boosted its economy.
He pointed out that the sum of money being expended on the programme yearly merely amounted to about five days’ oil revenue derived from the Niger Delta and urged the critics of the programme to bury their heads in shame.
According to Kuku, Nigeria’s daily oil output had fallen from 2.2 barrels per day to 700,000 barrels per day, as a result of youth restiveness in 2007, but that the success of the amnesty programme had restored the production level to between 2.4 and 2.6 million barrels per day.
Amnesty budget less than five days’ oil revernue
He said: “Experts have juxtaposed this against the 700,000 to 800,000 barrels per day in 2007 and they have told us that at the current crude price of $110 and the current exchange rate of N160 to one dollar, Nigeria and its joint venture partners area making production savings of about N14.9 billion per day. The budget for Amnesty Programme in 2013 was N66.7 billion, which is less than five days’ gain from the programme.
“To put the record straight, the Amnesty Programme has received just N243 billion since its inception and not N400 billion or N260 billion that is currently making the rounds in a section of the media.
“In fact, we have noticed that in an attempt to inflate figures purportedly allocated to the Amnesty Programme, certain desperate politicians and their allies have formed the habit of collating the budgets of the Niger Delta Development Commission and that of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and lumped them up as what has been earmarked for the Amnesty Programme.
“This is not only malicious but also a calculated attempt to incite Nigerians and the international community against the Amnesty programme and its beneficiaries.”
Kuku also said that it was untrue that ex-militants were the ones running the NNPC pipeline surveillance contracts in the Niger Delta, insisting that the contracts, which were terminated at the expiration of one year, were given to limited liability companies and not ex-militants as claimed in certain quarters.