About 30,000 ex-Niger Delta militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the payment of their five months’ stipends owed them.
The militants contended that the President’s quick intervention would douse the tension already mounting in the region over the unpaid arrears.
The Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Phase Two, Bayelsa State chapter, Salvation Ibina-Rufus, urged Buhari to order the Federal Ministry of Finance to release money to pay the ex-agitators to avoid another round of restiveness in the region.
Ibina-Rufus, who made the appeal in a statement on Sunday, sympathised with aggrieved former militants but encouraged them to exercise patience with the government.
Ibina-Rufus, a director in the Bayelsa State Environmental Sanitation Authority, noted that based on the meeting they held with Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh (retd.), he was hopeful that beneficiaries would be paid immediately after the New Year break.
He claimed that the delay in their payment was due to Ministry of Finance inability to release funds for the Amnesty office to commence payment.
He commended his members for their understanding and patience, advising them to maintain the existing peace.
He rationalised that Boroh had shown sincerity and commitment towards ensuring the payment of all their arrears.
Ibina-Rufus stated, “We equally want to use this medium to appeal President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the Minister Finance to release the N30bn approved by the Presidency to the Amnesty Office to enable Boroh to perform his work effectively to avoid another round of restiveness in the region.
“We are optimistic that President Buhari is aware of the sufferings and pains Christians underwent during the Christmas celebration due to non-release of salaries by the Finance Ministry.
In a similar vein, a leader of the First Phase Amnesty Programme, Mr. Excel Tonomo Divine, also appealed to beneficiaries under his command to remain calm while things were being sorted out.
He advised them to maintain peace and order, saying that he was very optimistic that their salaries would be paid after the Yuletide break.