The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) has launched a N1.5 billion Cooperative Fund – the PAP Beneficiaries Cooperative Society (PAPCOSOL Ltd.) to give strategic empowerment directly to ex-agitators of the Niger Delta.
Launching the scheme on Wednesday, the Interim Administrator of PAP, retired Maj.-Gen. Barry Ndiomu, said the initiative was a novel alternative economic development scheme.
He said the initiative was designed to create a more viable means of sustainable livelihood for ex-agitators with socio-economic development of their communities and making them self-reliant.
“Over the years, various reintegration empowerment programmes have delivered less-fulfilling results. I am confident that this initiative is the most practicable approach to ensuring the sustainable reintegration of ex-agitators.
“The scheme which will be serviced monthly with N500 million was birthed out of the need to encourage ex-agitators who are fast ageing, to explore more sustainable means of livelihood.
“This is better than depending on the monthly N65,000 monthly stipends from the Federal Government.
“The cooperative, which already has offices in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers, will be closely supervised by the PAP office.
“It would be run by an Advisory Board led by Justice. Francis Tabai, a retired Supreme Court judge, and other seasoned professionals and ex-agitators,’’ Ndiomu said.
Ndiomu noted that beneficiaries would be provided with technical support on their business ideas, and also get access to grants.
He added that the scheme would focus on agricultural value chain, services and manufacturing.
Ndiomu expressed regret that the monthly N65,000 stipends had introduced the culture of dependency and indolence in ex-agitators.
In his remarks, Tabai commended the Interim Administrator for championing the drive to reposition PAP and transform the lives of people of Niger Delta.
He promised to bring his wealth of experience to ensure that the board delivered on its mandate.
Similarly, Hon. Felix Ayah, (PDP-Southern Ijaw Constituency I), lauded Ndiomu for thinking out of the box on the initiative.
Ayah stated that he and other leaders of the region would embrace the new thinking and promised to give the PAP boss maximum support. (NAN)