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REVEALED: Over 350 ex-agitators yet to be gainfully employed ­— Ndiomu

“These were not government-owned universities; we are talking about private universities. Millions of Naira on individual students, I don’t want to put blame on anyone but that was without any doubt, reckless.”

The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Major-General Barry Tariye Ndiomu (retd.) has disclosed that over 350 ex-agitators from the Niger Delta were yet to receive gainful employment.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Ndiomu stated that he had already met and initiated plans with the Head of Service, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, to ensure that the 350 Niger-Deltans get jobs.

However, in her promise during Ndiomu’s visit to Yemi-Esan last year November, she vowed and agreed to commence the employment process of the 350 ex-agitators with immediate effect.

Ndiomu said, “As a matter of fact, they have actually been distributed to various Federal Ministries; the numbers were stated in the correspondences.

“I realised that I needed to give it that additional push which I can assure you is in progress, the Head of Service was very kind and magnanimous, she’s looking into it and I believe by the time the Vice President gets involved, I’m positive that we would have these 350 individuals gainfully employed in the various ministries of the Federal Civil Service.”

He further revealed that a snippet from the education audit showed that three-quarter of the ex-agitators, which accounts for about 263 of the 350, have not been trained.

According to him, “One of the directives that we were given was to carry out an education audit to ascertain the number of ex-agitators that have been trained in educational and tertiary institutions across the country and overseas. Ofcourse the audit programme is still on, we have just received the report of the education audit, we are studying it at the moment.

“But I think snippets of it that I can give for now, very clearly three-quarter of the beneficiaries are not the ex-agitators that the programme was intended to cater for. Therefore, we have a large number of ex-agitators that have not been trained. They have not been beneficiaries of this scholarship scheme nor have they been trained in any vocational training centres.

“Although it could still be argued that in certain cases, some of the ex-agitators surrendered their rights to be educated. And they surrendered that right to their siblings, children and members of their communities in quite a number of cases.

“So it was necessarily the fault of anyone but then again I have received complaints from the same ex-agitators that they were left out in the training program that has been carried out by the PAP. This seems to have worked as cross-purposes with the true intention of those who established the programme.”

Giving reasons for the suspension of the Presidential Amnesty Scholarship Programme, Ndiomu said it came on the heels of huge costs of the PAP programme.

He said, “Let me quickly mention here that one of the reasons it was necessary to suspend the scholarship programme was because of the costs of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. For example, we now have a total of well over 3,000 individuals to whom scholarships have been awarded.

“If you look at the bill, tuition fees are well over N7 billion for the section. We are talking about onshore 3,000 plus, offshore, there’s no government institution. There was a need to take a second look at it and that was why we had that problem with Baze University because it was just impossible to pay the tuition across these institutions.

“These were not government-owned universities; we are talking about private universities. Millions of Naira on individual students, I don’t want to put blame on anyone but that was without any doubt, reckless.

“There was need to take a second look at it which we are doing and we are not going to suspend the scholarships which have already been awarded because it was not the fault of these children to be awarded these scholarships, we have to work out a way of looking for the funds to upset these huge bills that we are confronted with.

“That’s why it was possible to discuss with Baze University to do a certain percentage payment, so that later on this year, we will be able to upset the balance of the tuition fees. We hope to do that with all other institutions before we can begin to talk about re-awarding scholarships in a more rational and reasonable manner consistent with the budget of the amnesty programme.”

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