The Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Hon. Kingsley Kuku, has again appealed to former militants in the Niger Delta to be patient with the delay in payment of their January 2013 stipends and allowances.
He said the Amnesty Office was aware of the tension the delay had generated within the ranks of the former agitators and assured them that their stipends would soon be paid.
The PAP chairman, who gave the assurance in a press statement issued Wednesday by the Head of Media and Communications, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said efforts were ongoing to get funds to settle the outstanding stipends while the gray areas in the 2013 budget were being sorted out by the Presidency and the National Assembly.
Kuku, who is also Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Matters, further said funds meant for the amnesty programme were intact and had not being diverted as being insinuated in some quarters.
"It is wicked for some persons to say that funds for the amnesty programme had been diverted to other purposes when the reason for the delay is clear to all Nigerians. Some persons, who always try to make cheap political capital out of the amnesty programme, are again whipping up negative sentiments against it because of the delayed release of funds occasioned by the 2013 budget impasse.
"The gray areas are being sorted out and I assure all former agitators in the Niger Delta that the money for their stipends and allowances are intact. No one can tamper with it, including me," Kuku said.
The PAP boss noted that the National Assembly, like the Presidency, had greatly supported the programme, saying it will be improper to blame the federal legislature for the delay in payment of the stipends.
"During our last budget defence in November 2012, the National Assembly again commended the Amnesty Office for judiciously utilising appropriated funds. The Senate even offered to partner the Amnesty Office alongside other development partners to ensure the ex-agitators are truly reintegrated into society. The same National Assembly cannot now be seen to be frustrating a programme that it believes is dear to the whole country and its economic survival," Kuku added.