Ex-Militants Give Ultimatum On Training, Stipends
Some former Niger Delta militants have threatened to resume hostilities if the Amnesty Office failed to continue with the funding of their training and pay them training allowances in the next seven days.
The Ex-militants, who chose to be identified as Scholars in Power Transformer Repairs and maintenance, told newsmen during a protest to the Presidential Amnesty Liaison Office in Port Harcourt on Monday that they were experiencing hardship as a result of the failure of the Amnesty office to pay their N3, 000 daily training allowances since August.
The protesters warned the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta to commence payment to the contractor/consultant so that their training could resume.
Some of the placards displayed by the former agitators read, ‘We’re going back to the creeks since there is no training’, ‘We’re telling FG to choose back to class or back to creeks’, ‘Back to class or back to creek; Prof. (Charles) Dokubo, chose one’, ‘Presidential Amnesty, fund transformer repairs training or we return to the creeks’, and ‘President Buhari has fulfilled his promise to the Niger Delta, Prof. Dokubo, fund the training’, among others.
One of the leaders of the protesters, Biira Barida, who read out an address, explained that they were asked to go home on October 31, 2019, due to lack of funds and the refusal to pay the contractor/consultant of the power transformer repairs and maintenance.
Barida said, “As it stands today, we are at the crossroads as we have not been equipped with skills that can empower us to contribute meaningfully to the development of our nation. Our cry today is to the father of the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari, to urgently intervene.
“We call on the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta, who serves as the coordinator of the Amnesty Office to within seven working days commence payment to the contractor/consultant in order for the training classes to resume and enable us to reintegrate fully into the society and take care of ourselves and families.
“Failure to heed our peaceful advice to release funds to enable us resume classes, we shall take this agitation to another level. On this note, we want the Federal Government and the general public to be informed that we are being forced to resume our former way of life. So, we either go back to class or go back to the creeks.
“If N4.5bn could be expended on the procurement of items, which were later looted, why can’t the Amnesty Office make a milestone payment for a training contract such as this one covering transformer repairs and maintenance? Why is it that the government prefers the language of violence than meaningful engagement?”
A top official of the Presidential Amnesty Liaison Office in Port Harcourt, Fenibo Jack, said the office had paid the former agitators their stipends.
He stated, “In terms of stipends, we have paid the stipends to date. We do not owe anybody stipends. Now, vendors’ contract sums are different from stipends. The Federal Government has released money for stipends and we have paid to date.