Edwin Akwueh, Abuja
The Senate Committee on Niger Delta has rejected the 2020 capital budget of N23 billion allotted to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs due to uncompleted projects in the region.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi made it known that Senator Godswill Akpabio appeared before the committee to defend the ministry’s budget of N25, 910,486,285.
Senator Nwaboshi said with the oversight function carried out in the ministry, it was realised that the problem of the ministry was abandoned projects littering the nine states.
“There is no state, I dare to say that there is no local government where there is no abandoned projects in the Niger Delta.
“We cannot continue with all the abandoned projects in the Niger Delta and be talking about new projects. These new projects are designed to fail,” he said.
“We need to look at this budget again and we expect you to do your cleanup because the document we needed were not supplied to us.”
The minister, Akpabio said that in 2019, N35. 2 billion and N877 million were allocated to the Ministry of Niger Delta for Capital and Overhead Expenditure.
He decried that out of the capital appropriation of N35.2 billion, no fund had been received for capital.
“A total budget proposal of the sum of N25.9 billion was allocated to the ministry, personnel; N1,14 billion overhead; N877 million and capital N23.8 billion,” Senator Nwaboshi stated.
Speaking with Journalists on the position of the committee, Senator Akpabio argued that the budget was not rejected.
“The senators feel that there ought to be completion of major projects that are already in the Niger Delta. I agree with them but unfortunately, we are working under a very tight envelope.
“The ministry was allocated the sum of about N23 billion and 60 per cent of it will go to already existing projects in the region and so 40 per cent will go to probably new projects in the region.
“So if you look at it very well, it is not possible for you to capture all projects with that amount and it is not even going to be possible to complete even 10 kilometers of road in the region.
“So I think instead of saying that the budget was rejected, I think that the distinguished senators should collectively make an appeal to the minister of finance, budget and national planning to improve upon the envelope to expand it a little,” he said.
This, the minister said could help to achieve substantial part of the yearnings and aspirations of the good people of the Niger Delta.
The budget session was then adjourned until next week, October 28 to find a way of possibly reviewing the capital component of the NDDC budget.