By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—APPARENTLY disturbed by the fragile peace in the Niger Delta region, the House of Representatives, yesterday, directed the Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, to release the sum of N15 billion to the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, as provided for in the 2016 budget.
The House made the call in its resolution, adopted but promoted by the Minority Leader, Mr Leo Ogor (PDP, Isoko federal constituency, Delta) at the plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
The members in session also mandated the House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to probe the circumstances leading to the funding constraints affecting the Amnesty Programme with a view to avoiding a reoccurrence of the incidence and report back to the House within two weeks for further legislative action.
The Minority Leader, while making his submission, claimed that paucity of funds has made it extremely difficult for PAP to meet its obligations to its workers and beneficiaries.
Ogor noted that no fewer than 30, 000 beneficiaries who are paid a monthly allowance of N65, 000, are being owed five months arrears, aside the fact that for those on the education programmes (Offshore), the debt to universities in the country is N1,873,044,700. 00, in addition to a backlog of unpaid In-Training Allowances amounting to N830,500,000.00.
He further stated that beneficiaries of the Education Programme (offshore) suffer same fate as unpaid In-Training allowances for 750 students between 2016 and 2017 is $4 million (equivalent of N1, 332,000,000.00) and an unpaid tuition fee for 350 students amounting to $17.5 million (equivalent of N5,512,500,000.00).
Underlining the gravity of the problem, he disclosed that 70 per cent of the 637 students in various institutions in 27 countries who are expected to graduate at the end of 2016/2017 academic year may not be able to do so due to non-payement of their tuition fees.
Saying that over 100 graduates are currently stranded in the united States of America (USA), Malaysia, and the United Kingdom, he raised the alarm that the students in the UK were on the verge of staging a protest at the Nigerian High Commission which could be a source of ridicule and embarrassment to the country.
Also in a separate interview after plenary, Ogor said he had earlier in the year raised a similar motion but it was on the inclusion of the Isoko and Bakassi youths in the programme who rather protect pipelines than destroy them.