By Peters Monday, Abuja
Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Maj-Gen Barry Ndiomu (rtd), has called on ex-agitators in states holding off cycle elections this weekend, to resist the temptation of being used as thugs to subvert the process.
The interim administrator, admonished them to go all out and vote according to their conscience and abide by the tenets of democracy in their respective areas.
Ndiomu made the assertion when the leadership of the Third Phase of the PAP led by its National Chairman, Mr. Elaye Slaboh, paid him a solidarity visit in his office in Abuja.
It was gathered that Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi would be having its gubernatorial elections on Saturday November 11, 2023.
He emphasised, “as ambassadors of the PAP, it would be a sad development to see any of them engage in electoral malfeasance because of financial and other inducement”.
The PAP boss used the meeting to also explained the need for people of the Niger Delta to support the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu, adding that ongoing efforts by the President to sustain the PAP and make it more productive, needs to be encouraged by people of the region.
Addressing the former warlords, the PAP boss stressed that even in the face of scarce resources and other competing demands, the Tinubu’s administration had showed tremendous efforts to adequately and consistently fund the programme.
“We need to understand that these are financially difficult times and knowing that the Federal Government is doing its best and the PAP administration is working with an unchanged budget in addressing the needs of the ex-agitators are efforts worth applauding”, he said.
Ndiomu implored them to also cherish the efforts of the management team of the amnesty programme for the various policies, innovations and initiatives it has introduced to address the welfare needs of beneficiaries in a sustainable manner.
While explaining that the amnesty programme was not established as a social welfare scheme for the region, Ndiomu pointed that it was rather floated to address the needs of ex-agitators through formal and non-formal education, skills, and empowerment programmes to reintegrate them back into society.
He maintained: “It is agreed that the Programme derailed and this is being corrected through the various policy reform initiatives, but it is regrettable that some of the ex-agitators who are supposed to be direct beneficiaries of these policies are ignorantly supporting the old ways which failed to add value to the Programme”.
On the scholarship scheme, he assured that ex-agitators who were interested in furthering their academics would be considered on merit, noting that individual universities have spelt-out criteria for admitting students into various disciplines in their respective institutions.
The Interim Administrator, however, advised that considering the age of most ex-agitators, what would be more beneficial to them was an empowerment programme such as the PAP cooperative loan scheme, designed to unlock their entrepreneurial potentials.
“PACOSOL is deliberately designed to end over dependency and over reliance on monthly stipends. The cooperative is sustainable, and I will do my best to strengthen it for the good of beneficiaries.”
Ndiomu expressed hope that the Third Phase under Mr. Elaye Slaboh would usher in peace, show more understanding and work closely with the management of PAP to achieve the desired objectives of the programme.
Earlier, National Chairman of Third Phase Ex-agitators, Mr Elaye Slaboh had intimated that the visit was to appreciate General Ndiomu for the good work he is doing as Interim Administrator in the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“The cooperative scheme is a novelty which has been widely accepted and more ex-agitators are eager to subscribe. Those who have received their loans have established businesses while others have upscaled their existing enterprises”, he said.
Mr. Slaboh assured that the exco of the Third Phase Ex-agitators under the new leadership will work closely with the management team of the PAP to realize set objectives and take advantage of existing opportunities such as scholarships, empowerment, and training programmes to improve the welfare of their members.
The group presented a plaque to General Ndiomu in recognition of his efforts in steering the Presidential Amnesty Programme towards safe Harbor.