By Grace Udofia
Abuja—The Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, yesterday, blamed the paucity of funds for its inability to pay ex-agitators their stipends up till date.
Meanwhile, Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh (retd), has assured beneficiaries of their stipends in due course.
He explained that the programme had been short of funds in the last two years as a result of the economic recession in the country leaving the office with a deficit of N59 billion from its budget in two years.
Boroh, in a statement in Abuja, explained that the challenge of accessing all allocations to the Presidential Amnesty Office was being addressed by the Federal Government.
He cautioned beneficiaries to shun unnecessary insinuations as they exercise their freedom of expression in order not to mislead the public against the good intentions of the Federal Government’s Amnesty Programme.
“On the delay in payment of stipends to beneficiaries, it will be recalled that the 2016 budget for the Presidential Amnesty Programme was drastically reduced from N63.28bn to N20bn, while out of the 2015 approved N63.28bn, only N47.39bn was released for implementation of the programme as at September 30.
“I enjoin beneficiaries to remain calm as all stipend arrears, among other outstanding payments under the programme will soon be paid.
“The good news is that the allocation for the Presidential Amnesty Programme in the 2017 budget has been increased to N65bn, meanings that the financial challenges being faced by the Amnesty Office as a result of the reduction in the 2016 budget will soon become history.
“In addition, a bill for an Act to establish the Presidential Programme on Rehabilitation and Reintegration for the Implementation of the Presidential Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta Area of Nigeria before the National Assembly has reached an advanced stage of passage. The bill, when passed, will give legal backing to the programme.”