Row in Reps over N260bn NDDC 2016 budget

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Row in Reps over N260bn NDDC 2016 budget

Row in Reps over N260bn NDDC 2016 budget
June 22
04:20 2016

There was drama yesterday as members of the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) accused the Chairman of the committee of siting 90 per cent of the commission’s projects in his constituency ( Bomadi/Patani Constituency in Delta State).

The members chided Chairman of the committee, Mr. Nicholas Mutu, for favouritism.

NDDC Acting Managing Director Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, presented the commission’s 2016 budget of a projected revenue of N260 billion for the committee’s consideration.

Members of the committee pointed out the anomalies in the budget.

Lawmakers also complained that too many projects were domiciled in the Isoko, Delta State Constituency of Minority Leader Leo Ogor, to the detriment of other places.

A member from Ugheli-West/North, Mr. Solomon Awhinawhin, said Mutu influenced the projects to his constituency.

He said: “We cannot pass this budget. I hope we are not saying that the budget will pass today? It is full of fraud.

“The Chairman has up to 90 per cent of the projects and the Minority Leader too has his own share of many projects.

“Ugheli-West/North produces the largest gas resources in the whole of Africa if not the entire world. There is no single project in this budget for them.

“Let me tell you, this neglect of Ugheli was why Niger Delta Avengers emerged. We are not passing the budget today because we have to represent all the communities in the Niger Delta adequately.”

Hon. Victor Akinjo from Ondo State, said his Ilaje area was not properly captured in the N71b voted for projects. According to him, while projects were duplicated in other areas of the Niger Delta, his community had no projects.

He said: “There is so much duplication of projects, which makes the whole exercise fraudulent .”

Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, also showed his displeasure over a road in Abia State, which he alleged had been duplicated in the sum of N1.7bn.

He said: “They did this road and the asphalt overlay, I have seen another N1.7bn, it is for the same portion on the same road by another contractor.”

The Acting Managing Director lamented that due to funding challenges, work had yet to start on 788 out of the 867 projects awarded in different sectors in the region.

She said the budget figure was short of the 2015 projection of N300.1billion by 15.4 per cent.

“Different reasons could be adduced for this setback, but a possible reason may be that contractors are not too sure of payments as the commission has financial challenges.

“However, 46 of the projects are ongoing, out of which 35 have been completed and commissioned”, adding that all the 2015 projects were rolled over to 2016.

She added that the 2015 projects brought the total stock of NDDC’s projects to over 7,000.

While trying to pacify the lawmakers, she explained that there was no deliberate decision to sideline any community since she assumed office this year.

According to her, the alleged lopsided projects were actually inherited and that the commission had to keep funding them as rolled over projects.

She said efforts would be made to “streamline” some of the projects in a bid to spread them particularly in states like Ondo, Imo and Abia where members have voiced objections.

The meeting later dissolved into a closed- session between the officials of NDDC and the lawmakers.

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