Former militant leaders and their former foot soldiers in Niger Delta are angry with the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government because of their unpaid arrears for five months under the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
It was learnt that the ex-militants were regrouping to begin series of protests to register their grievances and compel the government to pay the arrears.
They were said to have exercised restraint following the interventions and appeals by the PAP Coordinator, Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh.
An ex-militant leader Salvation Ibina-Rufus said his colleagues were running out of patience.
He urged President Buhari to intervene in the payment of their stipends.
The former militant leader noted that the President’s quick intervention would douse the tension mounting in the region over the unpaid arrears.
Ibina-Rufus, who is the Chairman of PAP Phase Two for Bayelsa State, also urged President Buhari to mandate the Federal Ministry of Finance to release funds to pay the ex-agitators.
According to him, the payment will prevent another round of restiveness in the region.
Ibina-Rufus empathised with aggrieved former militants but begged them to be patient with the government.
The ex-militant leader, who is also a director in the Bayelsa State Environmental Sanitation Authority, recalled that following the meeting they held with Boroh, the beneficiaries were told that they would be paid after the New Year holiday.
He attributed the delay to the inability of the Ministry of Finance to release funds to the Amnesty Office for the payment.
The former militant leader thanked his members for their understanding and patience.
He advised them to maintain the peace.
Ibina-Rufus said Boroh demonstrated sincerity and commitment to ensuring the payment of former agitators’ stipends.
He said: “We equally want to appeal President Buhari to instruct the Minister Finance to release the N30 billion approved by the Presidency to the Amnesty Office to enable Boroh perform his work effectively and to avoid another round of restiveness in the region.
“We are optimistic that President Buhari is aware of the sufferings and pains Christians underwent during the Christmas celebration due to the non-release of salaries by the Finance Ministry.”
Also, a leader of the PAP’s First Phase, Mr. Excel Tonomo Divine, urged beneficiaries under his command to remain calm while things were being sorted out.
The former militant leader advised them to maintain peace and order, saying he was optimistic that their salaries would be paid after the Yuletide break.
In a statement, Boroh appealed to ex-agitators to remain calm.
The presidential aide assured that the government was making efforts to pay the stipends.
He said: “Federal Government’s commitment towards the full implementation of the current re-integration of ex-agitators in the Niger Delta region into civil society with sustainable source of livelihood has remained a top priority to the President.”
He said the Amnesty Office would pay the delayed monthly stipends as soon as it received approved funds.
According to him, President Buhari’s recent approval of additional funds for the programme was a clear commitment and demonstration of his concern for the welfare of the youths in the region.
Boroh said the paper work for the immediate payment of the stipends had been done, pending the arrival of the approved funds.
The presidential aide hailed the ex-agitators for their maturity and understanding.
He urged the youths in the Niger Delta region to always maintain peace.