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Ex-Niger Delta militants applaud Ndiomu for redesigning PAP’s scholarship scheme – From Kingsley Okorie/Yenagoa

 

Participants at the interactive meeting

Ex- Niger Delta agitators have applauded the Maj.-Gen. Barry Ndiomu (red)-led Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), for redesigning its scholarship programme.

They noted that the introduction of measures to select only intelligent beneficiaries among them was apt and will add value to the Niger Delta and the country.

PAP’s officials, who held an interactive meeting with the First Phase Amnesty beneficiaries in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday made it clear to the delegates that the revived scholarship scheme would no longer be business as usual.

The officials insisted that only those with the discipline to stay in classrooms and learn and with the brains to absorb knowledge would henceforth benefit from the programme.

The Interim Administrator said that  to sanitise the scheme, his administration introduced a portal to receive applications from intended beneficiaries.

Ndiomu, who was represented at the event by PAP’s Chief Security Officer and Military Liaison Officer, Maj. Marshal Akpo, said the portal would ensure that only genuine registered ex-agitators benefit from the scheme.

Akpo said Ndiomu remained committed to improving the lives of delegates and creating opportunities for them to be self-employed and entrepreneurs.

He said Ndiomu created the Presidential Amnesty Programme Corporate Society Limited (PACOSOL) to enable him actualise his vision of making the ex-agitators’ entrepreneurs.

Akpo said: “The Interim Administrator (IA) has opened the portal for the scholarships. The IA wants to ensure that the real delegates are beneficiaries of this scholarship programme. The IA introduced PACOSOL in a bid to ensure that all the delegates are self-employed.

“He doesn’t want them to be dependent on N65,000 monthly stipend. He wants them to open businesses and become employers of labour within the Niger Delta region to enable the region to grow economically. The IA is committed to improving the lives of delegates. All the issues raised here will be communicated to him”.

Akpo said the interactive session had provided an opportunity for Ndiomu to know the concerns of the delegates, adding that similar meetings had been scheduled for second phase and third phase beneficiaries.

Explaining some stringent measures introduced in the scholarship scheme, the Head of PAP’s Reintegration, Wilfred Musa, who hails from Edo, said henceforth the vetting of scholarship applicants would be rigorous.

He said applicants would be expected to sit for internal exams and pass through oral interviews to compete for the scholarship slots.

Musa said with the introduction of the scholarship portal, applicants would apply individually and would be screened and checked against the amnesty register to determine their status.

He said the applications of persons not captured in the programme would be invalidated to ensure that only authentic ex-agitators would benefit from it.

Musa said: “The opportunities of formal education is something very close to the hearts of the current PAP administration. What we seek to do differently is to emphasise a series of measures. We believe that the quality of what goes in will determine the quality of what they achieve at the end of the day.

“We will see an extraordinary screening, aptitude test, and oral interview when we engage with the candidates. There will be screening, oral interviews, the vetting process will be rigorous. The objective is to ensure that at the end of the day we are putting money where will yield us returns.

“We want to guide them beyond their own thought. We are looking at a more structured process. At the end of the day those who eventually get the opportunity will have heightened awareness and there is value at the end of the road for the PAP, for the Niger Delta and for Nigeria.

“We are up to speed with the reality of now. We are in tune with the needs of now.

“We are bold enough to realign our system to help us achieve where we want to go to. In the business of success restoration and recovery, you don’t want to pay lip service. If you speak it the action associated must also look like what you are saying

Musa said the last time he checked the portal about 4000 persons had applied adding that more applications were still being received after five weeks of opening the portal.

He said: “As at the last time we check a week ag, we have almost 4000applications. The portal has been live for about f weeks. So, I am sure if Ilook again, more people may have applied. We have a good number of applicants.

Some of the first phase leaders, who attended the event commended Ndiomu for all his reforms and appealed to him to address some of their concerns.

 

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