Crisis Looms As Amnesty Students Plan Mass Protest; Issue A 7-day Ultimatum
Beneficiaries of the Presidential amnesty programme under the aegis of Forum of Niger Delta Amnesty Students of Nigeria (FONDASN) have issued a seven day ultimatum to the federal government to look into their welfare.
In a communiqué issued at the end of an emergency meeting of the student association which attracted student’s delegates from various private universities in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, in Akure, the Ondo State capital, the students complained of neglect by the Federal government through the amnesty office.
In the communique jointly signed by Biliboh Ikioh, Boniface Constance and Austin Alex, Coordinator, Secretary and Public Relations Officer respectively, the students lamented that even though the present administration increased the budgetary allocation for the amnesty programme this year, it has not translated into improved welfare for the beneficiaries.
They noted that many of their colleagues face the challenge of being expelled from school because of the federal government’s failure to pay necessary fees.
They complained that the monthly stipend that beneficiaries enjoy from the federal government has not also been paid since the last six months.
The students who opined that the amnesty programme was properly coordinated during the late President Umar Musa Yar Adua and subsequently President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan called on the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Amnesty Programme to either be alive to his responsibilities or resign with immediate effect.
They threatened to down tool if the federal government fails to look into matters bordering on their welfare before the expiration of the seven day ultimatum.
The communique read: “Due to what we consider as neglect by the Federal Government’s Amnesty Office, we, the student beneficiaries of the amnesty programme under the auspices of the Forum of Niger Delta Amnesty Students of Nigeria (FONDASN) wish to draw the attention of the federal government to our plight.
“It would be recalled that the amnesty programme was introduced by the late President Yar Adua’s administration as part of measures to mitigate the effect of the devastation in the oil rich region.
“Among other things, the government promised to ensure that beneficiaries of the amnesty programme gain access to free education and monthly stipends.
“The gesture was sustained during the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Under the present administration, however, FONDASN has suffered great neglect. School fees are not paid to Schools as well as monthly stipends are not paid to us as at when due”, the communique read.
It read further: “We, the beneficiaries of the amnesty programme were distributed to various private universities in the Niger Delta Region with the federal government promising to pay and also give us stipends.
“However, in recent time, the federal government, through the amnesty office, has not been alive to its responsibilities. For the past six months, our stipends have not been paid. The last one we received was for January.
“As if that is not bad enough, the amnesty office has also not been paying our school fees as agreed upon. Many of us have been sent out of school due to non payment of school fees.
“Even though we hear that the federal government increased the budgetary allocation of Amnesty Programme by 35 billion naira, that has not translated into improved welfare for us. Rather, things have turned from better to worse.
“We use this opportunity to call on the federal government, the amnesty office and the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Amnesty to look into our matter without further delay or else they should be ready for a show down”, the communique read.