Amnesty Office sets aside N1.5bn cooperative fund to drive entrepreneurship for ex-agitators

Abuja—The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) Wednesday launched a N1.5billion Cooperative Fund for the Presidential Amnesty Programme (Beneficiaries) Cooperative Society Limited (PAPCOSOL) to give strategic empowerment directly to ex-agitators of the Niger Delta.

While launching the scheme at the Amnesty Office in Abuja, Interim Administrator of the PAP, Major General Barry Ndiomu (rtd), said the initiative is a “novel alternative economic development scheme” designed to create a more viable means of sustainable livelihood for ex-agitators with the socio-economic development of their communities and making them self reliant.

Ndiomu recalled that over the years, various reintegration empowerment programmes have delivered less fulfilling results

He, however, expressed that the Cooperative initiative “is considered the most practical approach to ensuring the sustainable reintegration of ex-agitators.”

Ndiomu reiterated that the scheme which will be serviced monthly with N500 Million was birthed out of the need to encourage the ex-agitators who are fast ageing, to explore more sustainable means of livelihood, rather than depending on the monthly N65,000 monthly stipend from the Federal Government.

He said the Cooperative which already has offices in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states, would be closely supervised by the PAP Office and would be run by an Advisory Board led by HRM Justice Francis Tabai, a retired Supreme Court Justice, and other seasoned professionals and ex-agitators.

The PAP boss noted that the beneficiaries would be provided with technical support on their business ideas and would also get access to grants.

He added that the core areas of the scheme would focus on agricultural value chain, services and manufacturing.

The monthly N65,000 stipend has introduced a culture of dependency and indolence, Ndiomu regretted.

In his brief remarks, Justice Tabai commended Ndiomu for championing the drive to reposition the PAP and transform the lives of Niger Deltans, promising that he would in his wealth of experience ensure that the Board delivers on its mandate.

Similarly, Hon. Felix Bonny Ayah, a Member representing Southern Ijaw Constituency I, who is also a beneficiary of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, lauded Ndiomu for thinking out of the box on the initiative.

The Bayelsa lawmaker stated that they as leaders will embrace the new thinking and promised to give him maximum support throughout the scheme.

Other members of the Board are Major General Emmanuel Salubi (Rtd), Comrade Joseph Evah, HRH Henry Binidodogha, and some ex-agitators.

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