By Donu kogbara
The eternally controversial Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is making more headlines. But the Presidential Amnesty Program, PAP, is actually much more important than NDDC in real terms because without the fragile peace that has occurred since the late President Yar’Adua decided to neutralize ex-militants by paying them, the Nigerian oil industry would would be affected. on knees.
Nextier SPD consultants have prepared a detailed assessment of the PAP. The full report is available at nextierspd.com. I thought I should share the executive summary with readers:
Nigeria has continued to lag in human capital and infrastructure development despite being the world’s 10th largest producer of crude oil and Africa’s largest oil exporter.
The Niger Delta region, which is home to these natural resources, like other regions of the country, is affected by youth unemployment, environmental degradation and other forms of socio-economic and political deprivation.
Due to the perceived neglect of the region, the area was awash with youth unrest and criminal violence for much of the 1990s through the late 2000s, posing a huge threat to the safety of lives, livelihoods and life, environment and critical oil infrastructure.
In the era from 2007 to 2009, Nigeria’s oil production was as low as 700,000 barrels per day, bpd, from the previously recorded daily crude production of 2.2 million, leading to an estimated loss of more of one million bpd, which in May 2009 was estimated at around N8.7 billion or $ 58 million daily.
Economic losses, as well as the deterioration of the security situation in the region, led President Umaru Yar’Adua to proclaim an amnesty for militant groups in the region in 2009.
The Presidential Amnesty Program was inspired by the interventionist Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration program, DDR and the United Nations. The PAP was considered a success for restoring oil production to the pre-amnesty level and reducing the scale of insecurity in the region.
The program supported former militants with monthly stipends and provided college and vocational education as part of the DDR process. However, 10 Years after the program, there is concern that the program has deviated from its original goals.
Besides the fact that the show was originally designed to last five years, today it appears that the show has no end date in sight. In addition, its maintenance is becoming too expensive, in addition to being marred by corruption, nepotism, pre-war and patrimonial acts.
Between 2010 and 2014, the implementation of the Amnesty program gobbled up N243 billion (US $ 1.68 billion), making this local DDR program one of the most expensive in the world.
In 2017, the amnesty budget nearly tripled, with an additional 30 billion naira ($ 98.47 million) released and an additional 5 billion naira was reportedly added at a later stage. Until 2016, the annual budget was 20 billion naira.
The report finds that the PAP has managed to improve the security situation in the region and reach more than 20,000 beneficiaries through various formal education and professional training programs. programs
Like most bureaucratic institutions in the country, the PAP suffers from a lack of transparency, coherence and efficient management of resources. It has been characterized by a vision aimed solely at reducing threats to oil production.
Following the not-too-impressive management and implementation of the program over the past 10 years, especially in terms of achieving its main goals, this report, which is based on survey research, reviews the overall performance of the program, examines challenges that have prevented it from producing optimal results and proposes policy approaches for program transition.
The report concludes that the PAP has managed to improve the security situation in the region and reach more than 20,000 beneficiaries through various formal education and professional training programs, business development, apprenticeship programs, and job placement initiatives.
However, there is a growing view that the PAP has exceeded its embrace, despite a prevailing adherence to the program as its closure could provoke the outbreak of more violent upheaval from a new generation of militants.
Given that the main objective of the Amnesty program is the stabilization of security as a precondition for the intensive socio-economic development of the region, an evaluation of the PAP would essentially focus on the effective implementation of the DDR process.
To evaluate the PAP, it will be necessary to examine it from several perspectives. This will be done by evaluating the following areas:
• program performance: which will consider whether implementation is progressing according to the program plan and budget;
• program effectiveness: which will examine whether and to what extent the program has achieved its objectives, and on what external conditions it depends; and,
• program efficiency – which will determine whether the program’s outputs and outcomes were produced in the most economical way or are wasteful.
The approach and method adopted by the team of consultants for this project is a mixed research methodology: literature review of PAP documents and relevant research papers, in-depth / oral interviews for key stakeholders identified in the region and focus group discussions.
In light of the findings of the PAP evaluation, this report advocates a transition strategy from the PAP as it is currently constituted to another form of mechanism that could promote peace and security, and also address the issue of underdevelopment in the country. Niger Delta, avoiding the aforementioned challenges.
Four main transition options were presented for your consideration, highlighting the implications for each of the options. Of the four options listed below, the expert team presented arguments and concluded that option 4 is the most appropriate.
Option 1: Close the program. Propose a closing process for the program in a short period (around nine months), ensuring that all registered beneficiaries complete their reintegration program within this period;
Option 2: Return of PAP Program Activities to Federal MDAs. Divest PAP activities from other federal MDA programs;
Option 3: Transform the PAP into an Autonomous Youth Program that would not only focus on militant youth but on youth in general; and,
Option 4: Return PAP activities to the state oil development commissions, which implies the transfer of powers from the center and state government agencies, encouraging greater local ownership and oversight.
The following recommendations emanate from the evaluation:
• To address this feeling of exclusion from the PAP, which has made violence a recurring decimal in the Niger Delta, the plight of excluded active youth, women and devastated communities must be taken into account in the transition strategy or exit from PAP.
• Corruption must be significantly reduced through effective oversight functions, the deployment of robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, as well as the prosecution and punishment of those accused of corruption.
• Innovative job-finding strategies should be used for those who have been trained to prevent them from relapsing into violent crime in their quest for socioeconomic survival.
• Open the space for private, non-oil companies, and non-profit sectors to participate / contribute to the program.
This broadening of participation will promote the integration of trained individuals into the program and will also increase the acceptability of the program by international actors.
• Finally, although poverty alleviation is not the direct competence of the PAP, the program is expected to have a significant impact on the socioeconomic well-being and, therefore, on the livelihoods of its beneficiaries.
In fact, you have to think about another government initiative that has not achieved the desired results.