PAP: Contradictions surrounding Ndiomu’s suspension of Niger Delta ex-agitators’ scholarship scheme
By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
Like every well meaning Niger Deltans of goodwill, the GbaramatuVoice received with shock, and watched with dismay the recent inconsiderate and reckless decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria’s suspension of the scholarship scheme for the Niger Delta ex-agitators under the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
The announcement which came from the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Major General Barry Ndiomu (retd.), gleefully disclosed that the decision to suspend the scholarship scheme for the Niger Delta ex-militants and ex-agitators was as a result of increasing tuition fees, which he claimed, have reached over N7 billion per session.
Indeed, while Major General Barry Ndiomu (retd.) decision may be deemed as right, a broader analysis of the above action by GnaramatuVoice Newspaper postures it as not only deformed but a pronouncement made ahead of reason and thus, cannot hold water when faced with embarrassing facts.
First, Ndiomu’s said that “the report of the education audit which had just been submitted indicated that three-quarters of the beneficiaries were not the ex-agitators for which the programme was intended to cater as a large number of ex-agitators have not been trained’’.
From his claim, the newspaper would like to ask: Whose fault is it that three-quarters of the beneficiaries who were not ex-agitators mysteriously smuggled themselves into the scholarship programme? Should we blame the Niger Delta ex-agitators or the Presidential Amnesty Office? Is Ndiomu unaware that his declaration that non ex-agitators infiltrated an agency presently under his watch is an admission of leadership failure?
Why must the originally targeted amnesty beneficiaries therefore suffer deprivation of scholarship because past and present handlers failed to keep accurate records? Who should be blamed for this present failure?
Most importantly, let’s assume that tuition fees of the ex-agitators have in deed and in truth reached over N7billion per session as claimed by Ndiomu, the newspaper would again ask: Will such an amount be too much for the Federal Government to pay considering the amount that is being wasted on frivolities in other sectors, projects and programmes that have no impact on the nation’s economy?
Or is the Amnesty Office planning to end scholarship which adds value on the development process of the Niger Delta youths and in its place, continue with the worthless skill training and provision of starter packs after three days training that leave participants worse off?
If nobody has not complained over similar billions of Naira that is yearly spent on Nigerians for post graduate scholarship programmes abroad by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA), and Petroleum Technology Development Funds (PTDF), where people from other regions of the country benefits more, why must the same Federal Government lose sleep over paltry sum spent on the Niger Delta youths in local universities in the country?
Take as an instance, a report dated March 2021, reveals that Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), spent between 50 to 60 million Naira to train a student abroad on a course that last three to four years to complete. Going by the above information, the GbaramatuVoice would like Ndiomu to tell the world how much that is spent on each of the scholarship beneficiary under PAP that has become too much of a burden for him to carry?
Expressly, while it will be rewarding if answer(s) are provided to the above questions, the newspaper however, supports the idea as stated some days ago by PAP boss that the Presidential Amnesty office will continue to discuss with the private universities for a percentage payment before exploring the possibility of re-awarding scholarships in a more rational and reasonable manner consistent with the budget of the amnesty programme.
Even as that is being done, GbaramatuVoice also holds the opinion that the scholarship programme must not be stopped under any guise. The news organization calls on PAP management to truly, diligently and urgently scrutinise the well over 3,000 individuals to whom he recently claimed scholarships have been awarded.
Most importantly, Ndiomu must not forget that, the scholarship programme is the only relevant benefit that has accrued to the Niger Delta youths. Taking it away, could be likened to leaving them empty handed.
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