Given the strategic nature of the Minister Niger Delta Affairs, to the sustainability of peace and security in the oil rich region, the Senate has called for better funding of the Ministry.
The upper Chamber made their position known at the budget defence of the agency on Thursday when the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio appeared before the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs.
A member of the Committee, Senator James Manager while reacting to the budget performance of the Ministry for 2021 remarked that the budget for 2021 and 2023 for the Niger Delta Ministry was too meagre to achieve anything meaningful in the region.
Senator Manger reasoned that it would be appropriate to do anything humanly possible to sustain the current peace being enjoyed in the region and must be encouraged.
“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.”
Another member of the panel, Senator George Thompson Sekibo fumed at some Federal roads being constructed which he claimed have no economic relevance, but the East West road in the Southern region was uncompleted after many years.
“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.”
Akpabio in his earlier presentation explained that the budget of his ministry 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 scarce 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.”