FG earmarks N1.5 billion cooperative fund for ex-Niger Delta militants
The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) has launched a N1.5 billion cooperative fund initiative to empower business-minded ex-agitators in the Niger Delta region.
The programme, titled the “Presidential Amnesty Programme (Beneficiaries) Cooperative Society Limited (PAPCOSOL)” was unveiled at the Amnesty Office in Abuja, according to a statement released on Wednesday by Freston Akpor, a spokesperson for the interim administrator of PAP, Barry Ndiomu.
Mr Ndiomu, who spoke at the launch, described the scheme as a “novel alternative economic development scheme designed to create a more viable means of livelihood for ex-agitators, with socio-economic development of their communities and the Niger Delta region in general as an intended consequence.”
Mr Ndiomu, a retired army major general, also recalled that over the years, various reintegration empowerment programmes have delivered less fulfilling results, but expressed confidence that cooperative initiative “is considered the most practicable approach to ensuring the sustainable reintegration of ex-agitators.”
Speaking further, the official revealed that the scheme which will be serviced monthly with N500 million, was birthed out of the need to encourage the ex-agitators who are fast ageing on, to explore more sustainable means of livelihood, rather than depending on the monthly N65,000 monthly stipend.
He said the cooperative, which already has offices in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states, would be closely supervised by the PAP office and would be run by an Advisory Board led by Francis Tabai, a retired justice of the Supreme Court, and other seasoned professionals and ex-agitators.
Mr Ndiomu noted that the beneficiaries would be provided with technical support on their business ideas, and would also get access to grants.
He added that the core areas of the scheme would focus on agriculture and manufacturing.
The amnesty programme was set up by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, on June 25, 2009, an initiative aimed at resolving militancy in the Niger Delta.
In his remarks, Mr Tabai commended the programme administrator for championing the drive to reposition the PAP and transform the lives of Niger Deltans, promising that he would pour in his wealth of experience to ensure that the board delivers on its mandate.
Similarly, Felix Ayah, a member of the Bayelsa House of Assembly representing Southern Ijaw Constituency I, lauded Mr Ndiomu for thinking out of the box on the initiative.
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