The increased earnings resulted from the relative peace in the oil-bearing communities of the Niger Delta region, said the Head of Media in the Amnesty Office, Owei Lakemfa.
Mr. Lakemfa made this known in a statement on Monday, saying the feat was attained through collaboration with government agencies and the people of the Niger Delta.
He said the cooperation between stakeholders led to a boost in production thereby increasing earnings by N1.6 trillion against the N5.7trillion the government got in 2016.
“The programme has contributed immensely to human capital development in the oil and gas producing region with 1,431 graduating under its scholarship scheme from 23 countries including 13 PhD. and 10, 600 from universities in the country.
“In a sense, the programme has become a victim of its own success as some Nigerians have come to view it as the body that should rectify the age-long challenges of the Niger Delta and bring development to it,” Mr. Lakemfa said.
While describing the programme as a huge success, Mr. Lakemfa said the office is not comfortable that critics are assessing the programme outside its statutory mandate.
He, however, listed the achievement of the programme to include: putting an end to armed conflict in the region and sustained interaction with stakeholders.
Others were the peaceful resolution of crises, engagements with the leadership of groups and peace-building initiatives.
Despite delays in the release of funds, he said the programme succeeded in paying monthly stipends to the ex-agitators up to last December, adding that the outstanding stipend would be released as soon as the 2018 budget is released.
Mr. Lakemfa said the programme has provided up-to-date fees to all its offshore and onshore beneficiaries at home, within the continent as well as in Europe, United States and Asia.
According to him, the office is on the final integration stage and is currently empowering the ex-agitators so they can establish their businesses.
“Many ex-agitators are now proud farm owners. They own rice and fish farms, poultry, piggery, snailery, etc., and are employers of labour. Some youth were mobilised to protest against the Amnesty Office based on misinformation and misconception.
‘’Our mandate does not include the provision of housing or pension to beneficiaries. So, the claim that the office has failed to fulfil this promise is baseless since no such agreement or policy was ever made.
“Our mandate is human capacity development and ensuring a peaceful environment to allow for investment and the development work of other agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
‘’The Presidential Amnesty Programme is not a scholarship scheme or a mass employment bureau. It is primarily to cater for the 30,000 beneficiaries and some youth from the impacted community who accepted amnesty to work for peace in the Niger Delta.”