Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno says he has advised the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari to end the Niger Delta amnesty programme, which has seen “N712 (about $1.8bn) wasted in the process.”
Monguno said the amnesty programme has become a cesspit of corruption while handlers cannot account for huge sums running into billions of Naira due to corruption and lack of transparency over the years.
“I had to take this step to advise Mr President that this waste cannot go on. This programme is not supposed to be an open-ended programme, there is no place on the surface of this earth where programmes that are supposed to be palliatory will continue forever.
“N712 billion was wasted, basically unaccounted for and this is due to so many issues- corruption being at the fore,” Monguno told statehouse reporters, after a meeting with the President.
“The programme has been facing a crisis of transparency, consistency and efficient management of resources and due to corruption and nepotism, this programme became one of the world’s most expensive,” he said.
The Niger Delta Amnesty Programme was put together by a former Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua aimed at resolving the restiveness in the oil-rich Niger Delta region by giving economic opportunities to the youth of the region.
According to Buhari’s security adviser, “the original intention of the programme was rooted in the fact that the people of the Niger Delta had been suffering adversely as a consequence of man-made issues.”
“A lot of things happened to catapult the whole programme into other issues that originally was not intended, and since the managers of the programme have decided to allow their personal interest to overrule the aim of the project, the waste should be curtailed,” Monguno said.
He said the federal government has decided to take immediate action by “bringing in someone who can take a deep look at these programmes, what resulted to it being flawed — a person with vast experience and we all know the experience of Colonel Dikio in this type of issue.”
Meanwhile, major stakeholders in the region have been speaking against scrapping the programme.
Last month, the Deputy President of the Senate Ovie Omo-Agege had called on the federal government to put off alleged plans to scrap the Amnesty Programme. He had said the move would be premature, ill-timed and could jeopardise the fragile peace being enjoyed in the region.
Elder statesman and Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Edwin Clark also warned that the scrapping of the Programme will have negative consequences for the country.
By Abel Ejikeme