President Muhammadu Buhari has announced a two-year extension of the Presidential Amnesty Programme which now terminates in 2017.
The shift in date was announced on Monday in Abuja by Retired Brig, General Paul Boroh, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, who also disclosed that the Amnesty Office is exiting a total of 3,232 beneficiaries from the programme.
The initial five years of the progamme lapsed last December, but the General explained that the extension is borne out of need to draw and implement an exit strategy to save huge cost of implementing the amnesty programme, and at same time forestall a resurgence of militancy in the oil- rich Niger Delta after it been concluded.
He observed that an exit strategy was not conceived in the original open ended programme initiated by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, pointing out that the programme has succeeded in restoring peace in the region.
As part of the exit strategy now being implemented, the 3,232 amnesty beneficiaries he said have been trained as entrepreneurs and equipped to start their own businesses adding that another batch of 1, 042 are currently receiving starter packs to enable them start off on their own.
General Boroh explained that the exit of the 3, 232 beneficiaries will save government about N 2.521 billion in payments of stipends in the 2016 budget.
“Depending on budgetary allocation and release, the Amnesty Office plans to exit an additional 2,958 beneficiaries by the end of the year which would amount to N 2.307billion that would have been spent on stipends payments “, he stated.
Of all 30,000 captured in the programme the presidential aide noted that 17,322 have been trained, leaving a balance of 12,678.
According to him the Amnesty programme has secured admission and a given scholarship to 5234 beneficiaries in local and 131 offshore institutions.
A breakdown of the figure shows that 3082 of admissions are in local institutions while 2150 are abroad. 272 of the figure have so far graduated.