Prof Charles Dokubo, the Special Adviser to President Buhari and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme has regretted that the programme had been turned into a family inheritance arrangement whereby children inherit their late father’s position in the stipend roll call.
He called for a comprehensive audit of the 10-year-old programme to determine how far it has met the initial aspirations.
Dokubo who spoke at a media parley in Abuja also disclosed that a report on the invasion and looting of training equipment at the programme’s vocational centre in Kiama, Bayelsa State has been submitted to the Inspector General of Police more than three months ago.
He lamented that at inception, there were 30,000 individuals on the list of registered beneficiaries but that the number has not reduced despite the fact that most of the initial beneficiaries were dead.
“We have 30,000 people that were beneficiaries of the amnesty programme when the programme commenced.
“I am sorry to say that today, we still have 30,000 people on the programme. What it means is that in the 10 years, nobody died, nobody graduated from the institutions.
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He cited the example of a lawyer who wrote the Amnesty Office asking that the child of a deceased beneficiary be substituted with that of his son.
“I am also shocked that the school fees of our students continue to increase. I discovered that before I took office, there was a deployment of about 700 students in various schools but they did not go through the Amnesty Office.
“Some staff of the office were collecting bribes and inserting their names even when their names were not on the project.”
Dokubo explained that certain entrenched interests were angry that he was carrying out a reorganisation of the Office like the Vendors’ Association and those who were anxious to take over the running of the programme.
“The Amnesty Programme has been bedevilled with a lot of things and when you are in an environment where you have such group of people that have entrenched themselves in the system when you try to bring a new plan, there is always resistance.
“In the past, they would be given contracts that they will not execute. I also discontinued the concept of paying 10 per cent mobilization fees for contracts.
“We realized that some people will take 15 per cent and walk away. We are not executing direct labour projects and so you should go and source for money and execute the contract after which you will be paid.
“We are also putting structures in place to ensure that our people are trained so that they can find jobs. If they don’t have jobs, they are totally dependent on the stipend culture.”
According to him, a particular challenge inherent in the programme was that graduates do not even earn up to N50,000 but a stipend of N65,000 is given as stipend to a repentant militant every month.
“And when someone will stay at home and earn N65,000 as a stipend, then they will prefer to stay at home and do nothing. If they will stay at home and earn N65,000, why will they trouble themselves looking for jobs and earn N50,000.”