Prof. Charles Dokubo, Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Porgramme, has refuted allegations that it had failed to pay the school fees of some beneficiaries.
Dokubo refuted this allegation while fielding questions at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
Dokubo explained that those who were alleging that they had not been paid either came into the programme through the ‘’back door’’ or had personally decided to extend their degree programme.
“There is no other stipend that has not been paid, anything you hear about sometimes it is either people have been misinformed.
“We have a record in our office on those who are on stipends, others went into the programme through the back door.
“If I identify those who came in through the back door, most times I don’t pay them because it is eating deep into the budget that you were not part of. So I don’t pay.
“Although sometimes I have a conscience because I say (to myself that) these people are Niger Deltans, how can we send our children out into the streets.
“But we have to look at a way we can manage it so it does not eat deep into our budget and yet manage them because they are from Niger Delta.
“Furthermore, there is also that idea of after your first degree you want to continue to do a Masters’ degree while you were just sent there to do a first degree, you go and register yourself and then go on protesting that the amnesty is not paying you your money.
“Everything that those who complain and protest say we have to take with a bucket of salt because amnesty cannot send their students and refuse to pay their school fees.
“People claim that they have not been paid and all that but if you check the records we pay those who are not getting payment is that they have finished their studies and have refused to come back.’’
While also commenting on the issue of payment of back log of stipends, Dokubo said since he was appointed he had tried to pay most of the outstanding backlog.
He stressed that payment of stipend was an important factor in maintaining the peace and security in the region.
According to him, If you do not pay them, they will go on a rampage, so In recent times I paid about three months at a time, so that this people could have money and I could have my rest.
He added that he had recently put the office on an alert situation where they do not have to wait till the end of the month to pay .
The Professor, however, noted that the people saw they stipend as a sense of entitlement which affected the people involved in the programme.
“If you have been empowered, given a job and been trained, you have to disengage from the programmme.
“ That is what I am trying to do and I believe I will l do that with the support of the staff I have in my office.’’
On the issue of a recent report on mismanagement and corruption in the programme, the amnesty boss said he set up a committee to look into it when he was appointed.
“I set up a committee to look into the organisation when I just took office, before I started work, they made a commendation for me, they have seen where they are loopholes and also were they are deep holes.
“So definitely these holes have been closed, I cannot go into how it happened and all that but this committee I set up made it possible for me to close such holes.
“You know when you come into a place if you do not look at if carefully before you start doing things you also will also be trouble and then that office is a very dangerous office .
“Even if you are doing all the best you can, there are people to put you at a disadvantage, so you are always on top of the job , looking at it as if where is the next one coming.
“You cannot stop it, our people have that sense of contestation and protestation, it has been imbibed either through a period of conflict in the region, so we will try to deal with it at our own time.’’