30,000 N’Delta Ex-Agitators Rehabilitated through PAP Cooperative Programme

Bassey Inyang in Calabar

About 30,000 former agitators in the Niger Delta region have been economically empowered through the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) established by the federal government to calm down militant agitation by youths in the foremost Nigeria’s oil producing region.

The disclosure was made in Calabar by one of the leaders of the former agitators, and Chairman of the PAP Phase 2, Olutu Wanemi, who said the feat has been achieved under the current tenure of the Interim Administration of the PAP led by Major-General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd).

Wanemi, who spoke at an interactive session facilitated by the PAP office for leaders of PAP Phase 2, described the empowerment policy as a welcome development.

He said the cooperative programme should be sustained, alongside the PAP scholarship initiative.

Commending Ndiomu for succeeding so far in running the affairs of the PAP, Wanemi said: “None of the leaders had earlier thought of empowering the entire 30,000 beneficiaries. But we were shocked when the interim administrator came on board and introduced the cooperative scheme to accommodate everybody.

“This is a welcome development for the beneficiaries and the right thing to do, and I appeal that the current interim administrator should be reappointed by the president.”

A delegate to the meeting, Corinne Hart, said with the reforms in place, things are getting better, adding that, within the past year, over 80 percent of the issues in the programme have been addressed and this is reflected in the relative peace in the region.

“The Amnesty programme was not really working for many leaders, but recently with our brother there, we are beginning to feel the impact of the Amnesty Programme.

“Almost 80 percent of the issues in the office have been handled by the current interim administrator and he has been harmonizing the leaders, talking with them, and doing the necessary things that should be done,” he said.

The PAP Liaison Officer, Major Marshall Akpor, who represented the interim administrator, said the essence of the programme was to interact and discuss with the delegates.

He said the PAP wants to hear from the delegates in order to get their feedback and improve the programme.

Akpor stated that the Presidential Amnesty Cooperative Society Limited is aimed at giving an alternative livelihood to the ex-agitators, and also that the platform created for scholarships is aimed at ensuring that only real delegates benefit from the scheme.

 The Head of the Reintegration programme of the PAP, Mr. Wilfred Musa, disclosed that under the PAP scholarship scheme, over 10,000 have benefited since its inception and there is a monitoring and follow-up initiative on beneficiaries.

A beneficiary of PAP Phase 2, and the spokesman of the Ex-agitators Leaders’ Forum, Ibena Rufus, said the Presidential Amnesty Programme has made a lot of progress under the current tenure of Ndiomu.