Brief: Nigeria’s Presidential Amnesty Programme

In whose interests?

The mismanagement of government resources allocated to the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) for ex-agitators has created complex and stubborn financial dependencies. This complicates efforts to transition the PAP to an end. These dependences stretch beyond legitimate participants, to those vying for an illegitimate share of the allocated resources. This includes those administering the PAP and political elites. This brief summarises a research report, which is based on interviews with those in the system. It explores the importance of untangling and detaching these critical financial and political dependencies as part of exit strategy proposals

Key messages

  • The PAP is not a sustainable solution for stabilisation and development in the Niger Delta, nor do the financial benefits extend to large parts of the population. Instead, it has created complex and stubborn financial and political dependencies, which complicate efforts to end it.
  • Since 2009, the PAP has helped sustain thousands of ex-agitators with monthly stipends, but generally failed to ensure reintegration into employment or society. In parallel, some leaders among agitators and political elites have developed ways to steer the PAP in their favour, and embezzled significant funds allocated to activities.
  • These actors have grown heavily dependent on the PAP and, to some extent, on each other to extend it. This helps explain why the five-year programme has lasted more than ten years, shows no signs of ending, and is fiercely defended.
  • The emergent elite-run ‘constellations of patronage’ impact wider power dynamics, by making close associates more powerful, but more dependent, on the PAP and the Presidency.
  • Any successful exit strategy from the PAP will need a well-informed political approach which understands the interest of all actors, on top of a well-designed plan for winding down activities.

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