Amnesty Office owing contractors N71.4bn says Dikio

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The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd) has clarified that the scheme is owing contractors N71.4bn.

Dikio, who spoke in a live television programme on Tuesday, said the figure was based on the report of an investigative committee set up by the Presidency to probe the past activities of the programme.

The amnesty boss also said to achieve the mandate of the scheme in line with the standard set by the United Nations, the amnesty office must be reorganised for optimum performance.

Dikio said with the approval of his superiors, he would restructure the office to run on a lean and efficient workforce in line with the international standard recommended for such a programme.

The amnesty boss, who said a tenured appointment for the manager of the programme was never envisaged by UN for such scheme, noted that with a few qualified workers PAP would achieve its aim in record time.

He said: “I am very conversant with how the UN runs its DDR programme. The amnesty office has become a place for a tenured appointment. That is far from how to operate a programme like this.

“I intend to reorganise the place with the blessings of my superiors to create lean and efficient machinery so that we can drive each phase of the programme with the requisite qualified staff so that we can deliver set targets on time.

“My work is cut out for me. When I was appointed and resume on 21 September, an investigation committee had done extensive investigations of what transpired and i just think that we are not going to be dwelling on the past. But if we learn the lessons of the past we will do better.”

On the N71.4bn owed to contractors, he said their payment would be based on terms contained in their contractual agreements.

He said: “The investigation committee established that contractors were owed about N71.4bn and that is way above our yearly budget of N65bn. On our part what we are committed to doing is to ensure prudent allocation of funds in the need-driven line of expenditure.

“I want to also say that apart from the verification done by the investigation committee, we had also completed a reconciliation of those figures before I went on tour, so when I come back we are going to start paying after a review of our records. We want to assure our contractors that their payment will be based solely on their terms of the contract.”

Dikio said he planned to digitalise the operations of the Amnesty office and make it more transparent to reduce incidences of corruption.

“There are many complaints that I think are process-driven. For instance, we want to digitalise our operations and create a system in which there will be transparent transactions. If we do that very well it will reduce the incidences of corruption”.

On complaints of non-payment of some allowances, he said the Amnesty office could only pay for benefits captured in the books.

He said the school fees and other allowances of most of the scholarship beneficiaries under the scheme had been paid adding that the issue involving 1,880 students was being resolved.

He said: “I want to also address the fact that there are some complaints of allowances that are not in the books. Now we are not committed to paying for things that are not in the books. But if they are clearly in the books, we will ensure that the beneficiaries receive what is due them.

“All the students in abroad have been paid. Most of the students in Nigeria had been paid. But there was an issue with 1880 students who did not lent themselves to the verification process. They told me they were not able to verify because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As that was being resolved the issue of #EndSARs came up. So, I proposed that all those students to be verified should do what is needed about addressing their identities. I passed on a message that they could go to the court swear to an affidavit that they are who they say they are and that they are bonafide students of the universities they claim to be.

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“Take the affidavits to their heads of departments or their dean’s to authentic. All those returns had been sent in. I have been on tour for 13 days now and when I go back I will look at the list, approve the payment and we will deal with that. We will at the appropriate time authenticate if those submissions are true.

“It is a tough task but we are confident that with the cooperation of all the critical stakeholders, agencies of federal government and the likes that we will achieve that objective”.

Dikio said his office was committed to enhancing the package for beneficiaries of the programme adding that he had contacted the Minister of State for Petroleum Chief Timipre Sylva, on absorbing some of them into pipeline protection training.

He said: “If we do good packaging and exiting them into the independent entrepreneurs, they will be in a position that they earn more than 65,000 and rather become net employers of labour.

“As a matter of fact the Minister of State for Petroleum has thrown an olive branch to us and we made a submission, we want to partner the Ministry of Petroleum to transit some of our trainees into pipeline protection programmes.

“That will enable them to earn more money than N65, 000. We don’t want to leave people dependent on stipends.”..

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