The Senate Committee on Niger Delta budget defense yesterday, rejected the #23 billion budget presented to it mainly for the fact that it does not consider and have a focus of abandoned projects in the region. A Senator lamented that for the past four years, the president Buhari administration has not commissioned or inaugurated any completed project in all the nine states of the region. Speaking on this issue, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi who is the Chairman of this committee decried that the budget is unrepresentative and that it should and must consider ongoing and abandoned projects in its alignment for acceptance.
Other Senators added their opinions and views with regards to the Ministry of Niger Delta Budget. These includes;
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe noted that the Ministry’s budget is an “uncommon budget.”
In the words of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe representing Abia-South Senatorial District of Abia State ,”“When a budget is designed to fail, it is uncommon, he therefore suggested that the budget be taken back for reworking, taking into cognisance all the projects that were pointed out and we give them another day to come and defend the budget.”
In Senator Okorocha’s words, “This type of budget doesn’t produce anything feasible,” , adding to his earlier statement, he further said, “You have to do your projects and complete them so you don’t sound like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). And concluded that the budget is nothing different from the one of two to three years ago.
He noted that the Ministry of NDDC is “One of the worst establishments known for its funny activities because of the way it is set up.” The Imo West Senatorial District Senator concluded.
Senator Sandy Onor Ojang, representing Cross River Central, lamented a situation where capital components of yearly budgets would not be released to ministries.
He said: “We are faced again with the vanity of having a budget and almost through the budget year, there are no capital releases. It calls for concern and deep worry.”
Ojang decried a situation where the capital outlay is even lower than other costs.
“To speak of a situation where nothing is released for capital is a tragedy,” he said.
Other senators said there was a need to increase the ministry’s capital budget.
Akpabio urged the lawmakers to join him in appealing to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to increase the capital component of the ministry’s budget.
In his presentation, Akpabio said the capital allocation, which is N23,890,350,399.00, is considered inadequate considering the ministry’s mandate.
He said: “An analysis of the 2020 budget estimates reveals that an average sum of N2,626,705,599.00 is allocated to each of the nine states of the region based on the capital ceiling.
“This amount, which is expected to cater for roads, environment, health, social inclusion and provision of water, which are priority needs of the people of the region, in accordance with the ERGP, cannot conveniently pay for a quality 10km road in any part of the states in the region, thus underscoring the inadequacy of the ceiling given to the ministry.
Concluding, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and chairman of the committee said that ”“We cannot continue like that. With all the abandoned projects in the Niger Delta, we are talking about new projects; these new projects are designed to fail.
“Honourable Minister, we need to look at this budget again and we expect you to do your cleanup because the documents we needed were not supplied to us.”
According to him, “proliferation of abandoned projects cannot continue.”