Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, on Friday, said over N700 billion has been ‘wasted’ on the Niger Delta amnesty programme due to corruption and lack of transparency over the years.
Mr Monguno, who addressed state house reporters after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, said he had advised the president to end the scheme.
The programme was put together by the Nigerian government under former President Umaru Yar’Adua to resolve restiveness in the oil-rich Niger Delta region by giving economic opportunities to the youth of the region.
But Mr Monguno said the programme has become a cesspit of graft and should be scrapped.
“N712 billion was wasted, basically unaccounted for and this is due to so many issues- corruption being at the fore,” he said. “This presidential amnesty programme is supposed to be a very serious programme for the federal government.”
“The programme has been facing crisis of transparency, consistency and efficient management of resources,” he added. “Due to corruption and nepotism, this programme became one of the world’s most expensive.”
According to him, “the original intention of the programme was rooted in the fact that the people of the Niger Delta had been suffering adversely as a consequence of man-made issues.”
He said the programme has lasted longer than expected. “A lot of things happened to catapult the whole programme into other issues that originally was not intended.”
Mr Monguno said he advised the president to end the programme.
“Therefore I had to take this step to advise Mr President that this waste cannot go on. This programme is not supposed to be an open-ended programme, there is no place on the surface of this earth where programmes that are supposed to be palliatory will continue forever.”
He said, “since the managers of the programme have decided to allow their personal interest to overrule the aim of the project, the waste should be curtailed”.
He said within the period of its existence, “there has been a lot of corruption and waste, mismanagement.”
He, however, said the federal government had decided to take immediate action by bringing in someone who can transform the scheme.
He said Dixon Dikio, the new programme coordinator, had the experience to tackle the rot in the scheme.
“Throughout his stay in the military, he has been involved in a lot of programmes like that, he has served in places like Sierra Leone and Liberia, Chad,” he said.
“The idea is to bring someone with the strength of character, sense of purpose, someone who is able to deal with this from the short, mid to long term.
“So, basically, the endemic corruption that scuttled this programme and frustrated the people of the Niger Delta is going to be addressed as soon as possible,” he said.