House of reps’ seeks lasting solution to Niger Delta crisis

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[Abuja]–The House of Representatives has commenced probe into a lack of funding for an amnesty programme for Niger Delta militants, which is considered the key causative factor for the crisis in the region.

Nigeria’s House of Representatives will “investigate the circumstances leading to funding constraints affecting the amnesty programme, with a view to avoiding re occurrence and report back to the House within two weeks for further legislative action,” it said in a motion, on Tuesday.

In addition, the House has agreed to urge the finance minister to release the 15 billion Naira ($49 million) set aside in the 2016 budget for the amnesty programme.

It should be remembered that previous month, former militant leaders in the Niger Delta urged the government to pay out delayed amnesty stipends or face protests.

“The situation is becoming more serious … as tension and threats are already palpable in the Niger Delta Region and amongst the beneficiaries of the programme,” said the lower chamber.

Five months of arrears are owed to former militants, as well as education fees for students in Nigeria and overseas, it said.

It was gathered that under the amnesty programme, each former militant is entitled to 65,000 naira ($213) a month plus job training. But last month, a special adviser to Nigeria’s president said the programme was facing a cash crunch.

However, the country is battling with serious economic damage from attacks on Nigeria’s oil industry, which has exacerbated a downturn in Africa’s largest economy, which slipped into recession in 2016 for the first time in 25 years, largely due to low oil prices.

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