On Wednesday, the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Major General Barry Ndiomu (ret.), announced that the Federal Government has contributed N1.5 billion to support a cooperative scheme for 30,000 former agitators in the Niger Delta region. The scheme is intended to help the ex-agitators move on with their lives.
About 30,000 former Niger Delta agitators were the focus of the PAP’s efforts, with the overarching goal of reducing the militants’ reliance on the N65,000 in monthly stipends and increasing their capacity for self-sufficiency.
Ndiomu made these remarks during the launch of the PAP Cooperative Society Limited in Abuja. He stated that the organisation has already deposited N1.5 billion at Providus Bank for the scheme’s take-off and that they intend to provide N500 million on a monthly basis to support the programme.
According to him, the former agitators are the ones who are being targeted by the cooperative scheme at the moment.
He expressed optimism that as the funds increased, they would expand to affected communities and that the scheme would also benefit several people across the region. He also expressed optimism that the funds would expand to affected communities as the funds increased.
“We on our part will continue to support the cooperative with additional financial resources, and the plan moving forward is to provide a minimum of N500 million every other month in order to keep it operating.
“The overarching goal here is to dissuade people from becoming dependent on the monthly stipends, which, as you will all concur with me and acknowledge, has contributed to the development of a culture of laziness and is not in our best interests. “As a result, we have come to the conclusion that instead of giving them fish, we should teach them how to fish,” he explained.
According to Ndiomu, the objective was to provide an alternative economic development scheme with the objective of producing a more viable means of subsistence for former agitators in conjunction with the socio-economic development of their communities and the region as a whole.
According to him, the cooperative scheme would be managed by the former agitators and closely supervised by the PAP office through their consultants. He also mentioned that the programme would be managed and monitored by an Advisory Board that would be headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court named Justice Francis Tabai.
He went on to explain that the cooperative was tasked with the responsibility of collaborating with PAP recipients to locate companies that matched the beneficiaries’ areas of expertise, establish them, and turn the operation into a lucrative business.
Ndiomu added that beneficiaries would receive assistance in the form of both technical and business development assistance. This would enable beneficiaries to own and operate profitable business ventures that will fulfil essential requirements, generate employment opportunities, and stimulate economic expansion in the Niger Delta region.
The Interim Administrator stated that the PAP would be focusing on rice production, as they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with communities for the development of rice farms, and they are in discussion with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. Additionally, the Interim Administrator stated that they are in contact with the International Rice Research Institute.
He stated that it was hoped that the N65,000 monthly stipends would be gradually phased out by the time that many of the ex-agitators become business owners. Until that time, the hope was that the payments would continue.
An ex-agitator by the name of HRM Henry Ekes praised the plan in his remarks, saying that many of them have been wondering how they are going to survive given that they can’t even go back to the creeks and start causing trouble there.
He claimed that other agitators were also in favour of the scheme, as he frequently advised them that this was the path to take in order to become self-sufficient. He said that this was the reason why.
Ekes stated that it was essential for them to participate in the programme because it would also be to the advantage of the Niger Delta region.