By Tom Amakri, Port Harcourt
Ex-militant leaders and their former foot soldiers in the Niger Delta region are angry with the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government following their unpaid arrears of five-month amnesty stipends.
It was gathered that ex-militants were regrouping to begin series of protests to register their grievances and compel the government to pay them the arrears.
They were said to have exercise restraint following interventions and appeals by the Presidential Amnesty Coordinator, Brig. Paul Boroh.
An ex-militant leader, Salvation Ibina-Rufus said the ex-militants were running out of patience and appealed to Buhari to intervene in the payment of their stipends.
He said that Buhari’s quick intervention would douse the tension already mounting in the region over the unpaid arrears.
Ibina-Rufus, who is the Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Phase Two, Bayelsa State chapter, urged Buhari to mandate the Federal Ministry of Finance to release money to pay the ex-agitators.
According to him the payment would prevent another round of restiveness in the region.
Ibina-Rufus, sympathised with aggrieved former militants but begged them to exercise patience with the government.
The ex-militant leader, who is also, a director in the Bayelsa State Environmental Sanitation Authority, noted that based on the meeting they held with Boroh (retd.), beneficiaries would be paid immediately after the New Year break.
He attributed the delay to the inability of the Ministry of Finance to release funds for the Amnesty office to commence payment.
“We equally want to use this medium to appeal President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the Minister Finance to release the N30bn approved by the Presidency to the Amnesty Office to enable Boroh to perform his work effectively 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 non-release of salaries by the Finance Ministry.
Also a leader of the First Phase Amnesty Programme, Mr. Excel Tonomo Divine, also appealed to beneficiaries under his command to remain calm while things were being sorted out.
He advised them to maintain peace and order, saying that he was very optimistic that their salaries would be paid after the Yuletide break.
But earlier, Boroh in a statement appealed to ex-agitators to remain calm saying that as efforts were being made to pay the stipends.
“Federal Government’s commitment towards the full implementation of the on-going 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.
He said that the amnesty office would pay the delayed monthly stipends as soon as it received approved funds.