‘Niger Delta Avengers, neglect, fraud’ | Why Reps failed to pass NDDC budget

The location of most of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) projects in the constituency of the Chairman, House Committee on NDDC, Nicholas Mutu, has torn the committee apart.

The committee members expressed their disgust when NDDC Acting Managing Director, Ibim Semenitari, appeared before it on Tuesday, to present the commission’s 2016 budget for approval.

The budget was based on a N260 billion revenue, a remarkable 15.4 percent increase from the N300.1 billion budgeted last year.

Semenitari explained to the House that work is yet to start on most of the projects intended for the different sectors of the region.

“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 some financial challenges.”

“However, 46 of the projects are ongoing, out of which 35 have been completed and commissioned.”

She also noted that all of the 2015 projects were carried over into 2016.

A review of the projects showed that most were sited in the constituency of the committee chairman constituency, Bomadi and Patani Constituency in Delta State.

The lawmakers also condemned the location of several other projects in the Isoko constituency of Leo Ogor, who is the House minority leader.

Speaking on the unfair distribution of projects in the Niger Delta, Solomom Awhinawhin, who represents, Ugheli West/North, 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; 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.”

On his part, Akinjo Victor, from Ondo state, complained that his constituency wasn’t well captured in the project distribution, noting that projects were duplicated in other parts of the region but not in his community.

He described the project distribution as fraudulent.

Mutu, the committee chairman, didn’t say a word in the midst of the accusations.

However, the NDDC chairman explained to the angry lawmakers that there wasn’t any deliberate decision to favour any community.

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