The Senate on Thursday urged for an increase in the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to sustain the current peace in the area.
The Upper Chamber of the National Assembly at the budget defence of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs said that the current fund earmarked for the Ministry in the 2021 and 2022 budget was too meager to achieve anything meaningful in the region.
Leading the debate for increased funding for the oil producing region, Senator James Manager (PDP Delta South) said that “the ministry’s budget is too small to sustain the current peace we are enjoying in the region. It is the zone that keeps the economy of this country moving. The Niger Delta Region is the most peaceful and to keep that peace, something drastic must be done for the budget of the Ministry.”
Senator Manager’s argument was followed by a query by Senator George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East) who regretted the state of the 338km East-West road covering Warri to Oron through Kaima and Ahoada, Port Harcourt to Ogoni and Eket Township leading to Port Harcourt in River State
The lawmaker lamented that the East-West road was abandoned for the construction of less economically relevant roads in other parts of the country, adding that the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly “must address the issue of the East west road squarely, as we do to other roads. We are not being fair to the region.
We know you as a former governor and former Minority Leader of the Senate and we believe you are capable of handling this East west road. We cannot blame you for the present state of that road, but we have to do something about the budget of the Ministry.”
Earlier in his presentation, Minister, Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Senator Godswill Akpabio, had said that “the preparation of the Ministry’s budget was conceived in line with the FGN 2022 Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability, which seeks to reposition the Nigerian economy on the path of growth and resilience.”
He stated that the Ministry also sought to allocate its scares resources in accordance with government priorities…”, adding, the draft budget further complied with the 2022 Budget Call Circular, which directed that MDAs should accord priority to ongoing projects, especially those nearing completion that fit into the government’s current priorities and will have direct impact on the people of the Niger Delta Region.”
According to Akpabio, “A total budgetary proposal of the sum of N28,131,295,396 was allocated to the Ministry comprising Personnel N1,692,591,184, Overhead N877,089,120 and Capital N25,561,615,092.”
The Minister noted that “the 2022 budgetary allocation in the sum of N26, 592,560,040 is however considered meagre and significantly inadequate in the face of the mandate and goals of the Ministry to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people. The impact of COVID-19 Pandemic has further necessitated the intervention of the Ministry to ameliorate the infrastructure and Human Capital Development of the people of the Region.”
Akpabio further disclosed that the dwindling Budgetary allocation to the Ministry has necessitated the need for budgetary increase, saying,” Mr Chairman, distinguish members, arising from the dwindling Budgetary Allocation and the increasing level of Outstanding Liabilities, we wish to solicit for additional funding and your support to enable the Ministry deliver on Mr President and the Administration’s mandate for the Niger Delta Region.”