By Davies Iheamnachor
Ijaw leaders have lamented that contractors to the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, were responsible for the failure of the programme to deliver on its mandates.
The leaders of the ethnic group, however, warned ‘corrupt contractors’ to stop the ongoing campaign of calumny against the Interim Administrator of PAP, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd).
The leaders on the platform of Ijaw Forward Movement, IFM, lamented that a set of contractors have picked up fight against Dikio for refusing to do their biddings.
The Coordinator of IFM, Anthony Oki, in a statement in Port Harcourt, said Dikio’s offence was because he insisted on cleaning up the payment process transparently by verifying projects done by amnesty contractors before approving disbursement of funds.
Oki said: “These contractors constitute a major problem of the amnesty programme. They have hijacked the programme using all manner of underhand tactics to corner significant chunk of monies earmarked to empower ex-militants.
“They are behind the failures of the programme and the inability of past coordinators to realise the mandates of PAP. They claim they have trained and empowered about 22,000 ex-militants. Does the Niger Delta look like a region where even 5000 persons had been trained and empowered?
“As an organisation, we took our time to probe the activities of these contractors and our discovery from field reports show that most of these so-called contractors do not spend up to 15 per cent of funds given to them to train and empower beneficiaries.
“They corner this money to maintain their flamboyant lifestyles in Abuja and Lagos. They are the ones, who drive exotic cars and live in mansions while those who fought for the amnesty programme wallow in abject poverty. They dangle carrots before the beneficiaries and compel them to sign papers on fake empowerment programmes.”
Oki alleged that a particular contractor was given a contract of N1.8bn to evacuate and distribute amnesty kits worth over N15bn parked at Kaiama training centre in Kolokuma-Opokuma, Bayelsa State, but that the entire materials were instead looted by the locals.
He said: “Now that contractor is still mounting pressure on Dikio to pay him the money. These contractors ganged up against Dikio and started sponsoring campaigns of calumny and bankrolling protests and publications because the amnesty boss insisted that only verified contracts will be paid for and that payment will begin sequentially from 2014.
“They became enraged recently when about N26bn unspent amnesty fund was retrieved by the Federal Government in line with the anti-corruption principle of the federal government. Their anger is that Dikio refused to share the money to them within two days.
“As an organisation, we read the position of the amnesty office on this matter. The money entered amnesty’s coffers on December 29, 2020 and on December 31st it was mopped up along other unspent funds in other ministries, departments and agencies in line with the fiscal policy of the federal government.
“There is no way such amount of money could have been spent within such short period of time; which is what these corrupt contractors wanted Dikio to do. Though we appeal to the federal government to roll over the money to enable PAP meet its obligations especially as it is a security programme, we will not allow these contractors to twist the narrative out of their selfish interests”.
He urged Dikio to remain resolute and focused in discharging the functions of his office with zero-tolerance for corruption adding that PAP despite all the distractions was living up to its mandate for the first time in the history of the programme.