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Militancy: Reps ask FG to secure N35.8bn funding for amnesty programme

The House of Representatives on Wednesday asked the Federal Government to immediately initiate a “sustainable plan” to end the militancy in the Niger Delta. Lawmakers said the “confrontational approaches” adopted by the government so far would only worsen the bombing of oil facilities by militants.
In its resolution in Abuja, the House also called on the government to secure additional N35.8billion funding for the amnesty programme in a bid to guarantee the continuous payment of allowances and training of ex-agitators.

The resolution followed a motion jointly sponsored by 31 members of the House, cutting across the six geo-political zones of the country to draw attention to the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta by the Niger Delta Avengers.

A member from Cross River State, Mr. Ekpenyong Ayi, who led the debate, said the N35.8bn was actually a shortfall of the original N55.8bn proposed by the Presidential Amnesty Office as its 2016 budget.

He noted, “The House is worried that the N20bn proposed by the Federal Government for the Presidential Amnesty Office in the 2016 budget is lower than the N55.8bn proposed by the Presidential Amnesty Office and the amount is grossly inadequate to sustain the payment of stipends to 25,000 ex-agitators, pay in-training allowances, tuition fees and other commitments.”

Ayi told the House that the “massive cut” in the amnesty budget contributed largely to the resurgence of militancy in the oil region, with production output dropping to a record “990,000 barrels per day by June 1.”

He recalled that, from the budgetary crude oil target of 2.2mbpd, production fell to 1.76mbd in February; 1.68mbd in March; and 1.62mbd in April due to attacks on installations by the avengers.

Ayi added that strategic installations belonging to Chevron, Shell and Agip had been blown up by militants in the past few months.

“The incessant attacks on oil facilities have led to Nigeria losing its place as Africa’s largest oil producer because its oil output has fallen to a 22-year low of 1.4mbd as against the budgetary target of 2.2mbpd, and by June 1, 2016, it was about 990,000bpd”, the lawmaker stated.

The motion was passed without further debate at the session, which was presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Suleiman Lasun, to underscore the urgency of the security and economic development in the Niger Delta.

Lawmakers also observed that the attacks on gas installations had affected electricity supply to parts of the country.

They said the ugly trend had underscored the need to tap into the potential of coal as an alternative power source.

Lawmakers took the stance while passing another resolution on a motion on the “urgent need to commence generation of electricity through coal.”

The motion, which was moved by Mr. Ahmed Abu, observed that the country had a total coal reserve of about 639million metric tons, “while the inferred reserves sum up to 2.75billion metric tons.”

The House resolved to “Urge the Federal Government to put all necessary machinery in motion that will lead to the generation of electricity through coal in all states where there is proven and inferred coal reserves.”

Benue, Enugu, Abia and Kogi were listed among states with large coal deposits in the country, besides “more than 13 additional undeveloped coal fields.

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