Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, at the weekend, gave assurance of prudent management of funds meant for beneficiaries of the programme.
Dokubo expressed his resolve when the leadership of the Niger Delta Amnesty Law Students Association (NDALAWSA) paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja. He said budgetary allocations to the Amnesty Office would be judiciously utilized under his watch, and not diverted into private pockets.
“I will make sure that you get your money at anytime it is stated that you should get it. The money is not my own, it was given to the office because of beneficiaries of the programme. And I will do whatever it takes to make sure that those of you in the programme get all that have been assigned to you”, he assured.
The presidential adviser frowned at complaints of delays and irregularities in payment of stipends and other allowances to beneficiaries which had bedeviled the Amnesty Office prior to his appointment, and promised to put an end to the anomalies. “I will stop that. I am glad by what you’ve said and I am also ready to look at the challenges you’ve mentioned that you’ve faced here. I will try as much as possible to get in touch with those involved in training, education and others to find out if what you said is the proper process; and if it is the process, I will continue and I will not fail, because going to school is not an easy task”.
He added: “So, if the office is responsible for your education, we will try and shoulder it with you and make sure that we are going to stand shoulder to shoulder with you and help you to attain the height you’ve set for yourself and for this programme. I will go back to my office and call those in charge of payment of stipends and other allowances to look at how much is being paid, and we should also know when the Law School opens so that our students will be enrolled and graduate with their peers and they will not be lagging behind because the office refused to pay fees and allowances or that payments were not made as at and when due.
Responding to a request by the Niger Delta law students for an upward review their allowances for Law School fees and other expenses, Dokubo said his decision will be based on set guidelines and standards in that regard.
“My administration will do well by cross-checking from the relevant departments to see if the monies you’ve talked about were normally paid, because I am new on the job but I have to look at precedence. If it had been like that, then why won’t we continue to do it that way? But if you mean something different from what is stated in your speech, then it will be a difficult way to follow. But if this is the norm that we’ve always be guided, then we are going to carry it on for you so that as you go to the Law School, you just have to stay there and concentrate on your studies so that at the end, you can have the qualification to do whatever you want to do in our society. We are happy to showcase you; it’s not about carrying guns and all that”.
Speaking earlier, NDALAWSA President, Kuete Priye Noel, who expressed dismay at attempts by some self-seeking individuals and faceless groups to distract Dokubo from achieving his lofty objectives for beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme, pledged the unflinching support of members of his association.
“Recently, we’ve seen attacks on your office especially in the social media orchestrated by enemies of progress whose aim is to distract you from the good work you are doing. These are disgruntled persons who have lost out in the new dispensation and are fighting like wounded lions. Sir, we pledge our unalloyed support to you; we are students cutting across all Niger Delta states and are not new to what obtains in our environment. We are here on behalf of our colleagues who mandated us to vouch our unalloyed support. You can count on us and as we leave here, we shall pass the message to our counterparts who are not here with us. We appreciate you”.
Besides a review of allowances for Law School fees and other allowances for graduating Law students under the programme, Kuete appealed for prompt mobilization of delegates to Law School to reduce the backlog of delegates awaiting enrolment after graduating from their various universities, and the empowerment of each delegate with a minimum sum of N5million immediately after being called to bar to enable them settle down to practice the profession.
30 Law students among other beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme undergoing educational programmes in various universities within the country and offshore, are graduating this year. The prospective Law School delegates are final year students of the Benson Idahosa University (BIU), Benin City and Igbinedion University, Okada (IUO).