Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, on Monday reiterated the commitment of the PAP Office to provide quality empowerment packages for beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. This, he says will reduce the ex-agitators’ dependence on the monthly N65,000 stipends and give them a decent and more sustainable means of livelihood.
This statement has become necessary due to the recent calls for the payment of non-statutory allowances such as the Transitional Safety Allowance (TSA).
A statement from the office of the Interim Administrator, signed by his SA Media, Nneotaobase Egbe explains that the TSA is not statutorily provided for and therefore, not captured in the budget provided by the Presidency.
The Transitional Safety Allowance was a direct payment made by the then Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, who got the approval from the Federal Executive Council to pay ex-agitators who had been disarmed, and on their way out of the disarmament centres.
This payment was made for the purpose of transportation, accommodation and to cushion the social effects at that time for the ex-agitators transitioning from the creeks to residences within and outside their respective communities.
This TSA payment was a one -off to all ex-agitators documented in batches in 2010, 2013 and 2014 and was not captured or documented as a recurrent annual payment.
The Interim Administrator has frowned at the incessant agitations to resume the TSA payment and is appealing to those agitating for these payments to instead refocus their energies to forming cooperatives for entrepreneurial purposes which he is willing to support.
It will be recalled that the Presidential Amnesty Programme was created to stabilize, consolidate and sustain security as well as fast-track development in the Niger Delta region through effective implementation of the total Amnesty Package, which includes reintegrating the ex-agitators back into the society by providing quality training and empowerment to help them become net contributors to the economic prosperity of the Niger Delta region and Nigeria as a whole.
Col. Dikio (rtd) has assured delegates that the Presidential Amnesty Programme is focused on actualizing its original mandate by directing available resources to achieve optimum results.
Minister Betta Edu Vows to Overhaul NPower Program and Eradicate Poverty
Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, has revealed a series of challenges plaguing the NPower program, vowing to overhaul the initiative to ensure it fulfills its mission of alleviating poverty for millions of Nigerians.
During the Arise TV interview, Minister Edu expressed her commitment to transforming the NPower program and addressing its longstanding issues.
She explained that the NPower payment list contains the names of individuals who should not be part of the program, revealing the gravity of the problems that her ministry is actively working to rectify.
“First of all, when we came onboard, we found lots of issues with the NPower program that made us re-engage the entire plan,” Edu stated. “One of the things was that there were persons registered on the NPower beyond the envelope that was provided for the program.”
The revelation of individuals beyond the program’s intended scope raises questions about the program’s effectiveness in targeting those most in need of assistance.
Edu further highlighted financial mismanagement as a critical issue affecting NPower beneficiaries. “Funds were released for payment for people under NPower, and they were not paid in a timely manner by the managers of the funds of the NPower beneficiaries,” she declared.
This mismanagement of funds not only hinders the program’s ability to provide timely support but also undermines the trust of beneficiaries in the system.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect disclosed by the minister is the inclusion of individuals on the payment list who should not be there and those who do not contribute to the program despite receiving payments.
Edu said, “There were also people who were on the payment list who are not supposed to be there, and there are persons who are there but are not providing any services but have been enrolled to have payment.”
Such irregularities in the program’s implementation not only waste resources but also deprive those genuinely in need of the support they require.
Also, Edu acknowledged the issue of individuals who had surpassed their allotted time with the NPower program but still expected to receive payments. She referred to this as an “exit plan,” which has led to continued financial obligations that the program may not be able to sustain.
To address these pressing concerns, Minister Edu disclosed that a committee has been established to scrutinize and provide recommendations for improving the NPower program. The committee, headed by the secretary of the ministry, is expected to propose reforms based on its findings.
Minister Edu’s commitment to reforming the NPower program aligns with the broader goal of President Tinubu’s administration to uplift 133 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030, in accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She declared, “For poverty alleviation, we are targeting at least 133 million Nigerians between now and 2030, which is in line with the SDGs that we signed at the United Nations.”
However, Edu emphasized that the government is not content with maintaining the status quo.
“The difference here is that we are not going to continue doing things the same way and expect different results,” she affirmed.
“There are different plans we are working on, and we believe very strongly that by the next one year, we should be able to say that at least we have removed 20 million Nigerians out of poverty.”
The commitment to addressing the NPower program’s flaws and the ambitious goal of poverty eradication signal a new direction in the fight against poverty in Nigeria, one that aims to be more efficient, transparent, and impactful for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
FBI Analysis Reveals Shocking Details in Mompha’s Trial
A Lagos High Court recently admitted into evidence a comprehensive report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during the trial of Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha.
This report sheds new light on the alleged fraudulent activities of the accused, including the use of his iPhone in a series of financial transactions.
The FBI report, presented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as evidence, has revealed a string of suspicious activities carried out through Mompha’s iPhone.
According to the report, Mompha’s phone was used to send account details to a United Arab Emirates telephone number, searched for Swift Codes of a bank, and, shockingly, had a compromised Microsoft 365 account.
The charges against Mompha and his company, Ismalob Global Investment Limited, include conspiracy to launder funds, retention of proceeds from criminal conduct, money laundering, failure to disclose assets, possession of documents containing false pretense, and the use of property derived from an unlawful act.
The prosecution alleges that they conducted financial transactions amounting to over N5.9 billion with the intent of promoting unlawful activities.
During cross-examination, the witness from the FBI revealed that Mompha’s iPhone was employed in changing payment delivery methods from cheque to wire transfer after two failed attempts, ultimately succeeding on the third attempt.
The defense counsel, Kolawole Salami, initially objected to the admissibility of the FBI report, arguing that it needed certification by the United States Consulate.
However, the objection was overruled by Justice Mojisola Dada, who deemed the documents to be in their original state and not requiring certification.
As the trial progresses, these shocking revelations from the FBI analysis have cast a new light on the case against Mompha.
The courtroom drama continues, with the case adjourned until Wednesday, November 1, leaving both the prosecution and the defense with much to consider in the days ahead.
Nigeria Holds $783 Million in Blocked Funds, IATA Engages with Government for Resolution
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that as of August Nigeria holds approximately $783 million in blocked funds belonging to various airlines.
This significant financial concern was communicated via an official statement released by the trade association.
Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, has been actively engaged in discussions with the Federal Government in an effort to find a resolution to this pressing issue.
Foreign airlines operating within Nigeria have faced ongoing challenges in repatriating their commercial revenues due to a prolonged shortage of foreign exchange in the country.
The official statement from IATA stated, “Mr. Al Awadhi also held discussions with Nigeria’s newly appointed Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, the Honorable Minister Festus Keyamo. During these discussions, he urged the new government to maintain and strengthen consultations with the industry while developing both short-term and long-term solutions to address foreign exchange access issues for both domestic and foreign carriers.”
Highlighting the severity of the situation, the statement said, “As of August 2023, Nigeria accounts for $783 million of airlines’ blocked funds.”
According to the statement, IATA commends the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for its commitment to enhancing infrastructure and service standards at Lagos’s Murtala Muhammad International Airport within a twelve-month timeframe.
In related news, IATA had previously raised concerns about safety, security, and passenger service levels at Lagos Airport in the past year.
A recent high-level meeting between IATA and FAAN, represented by Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Kabir Mohammed, concluded with FAAN committing to expedite improvements in these areas as part of a corrective action plan.
Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, said, “We welcome FAAN’s commitment to upgrade Lagos Airport, which serves as a vital domestic and international hub connecting Nigeria to the rest of Africa and beyond. This strategic focus not only strengthens the aviation sector but also acts as a catalyst for Nigeria’s broader economic and social progress. IATA is ready to provide support and expertise to FAAN to ensure that international standards are met through the corrective action plan. Safety, security, and efficient infrastructure are crucial for a well-functioning air transport system, as is the ability of airlines to access the revenues they generate in Africa.”
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