Reps move for N36 billion to offset ex-militants’ pay arrears
The House of Representatives yesterday expressed readiness to interface with the relevant authorities to ensure the release of an outstanding N35, 824, 488, 493. 27 for the Presidential Amnesty Office in the 2016 budget as part of plans to appease aggrieved militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
The release, it was learnt, is to enable the payment of arrears of stipends to 25,000 former agitators, in-training allowances, tuition fees and other commitments.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Ekpenyong Essien Ayi (Bakassi: Cross River: PDP) and 29 others, the chamber also urged the authorities to formulate a sustainable plan to end militancy in the area.
At the plenary presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Sulaimon Yussuff Lassun, the lawmakers enjoined the restive militants to embrace dialogue and allow peace reign in the region.
Ayi noted that of the N55, 824, 488, 493. 27 proposed by the amnesty office, it was only N20, 000, 000, 000. 00 that was approved in the 2016 budget recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The lawmaker blamed the massive cut for the resurgence of militancy which has seen oil production further nosedived from 1. 76 mbd in February to 1. 68 mbd in March and 1. 62 mbd in April according to a report from the International Energy Agency.
Speaking further on the incessant attacks on oil facilities in the region, he noted that the development had impacted negatively on electricity output, as thermal power stations that rely on gas to power their turbines have been made impotent.
Ayi recalled that the amnesty programme, introduced by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, actually persuaded about 30, 000 militants to lay down their arms, leading to a rebound in oil output from around 1. 6 mbd to about 2. 8 mbd, thus resulting in higher oil revenues for the country.
Consequently, Lassun referred the issue to the House Committee on Niger Delta for further legislative work.
Also, the lawmakers adopted another motion urging the authorities to put all necessary machineries in motion for generation of electricity through coal in all states of the federation where there is proven and inferred coal reserves.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Ahmed Abu, the chamber enjoined the authorities to create a conducive environment to attract private investments in the coal sector, including the issuance of sovereign guarantee to foreign investors.