NDDC’s 2023 Budget: Another insincere attempt to develop Niger Delta
By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
Like every well meaning Niger Deltan and critical stakeholders, GbaramatuVoice has watched with dismay and describes as critically insufficient the recently passed 2023 budget of N876 billion for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
A glance at the budget reveals a budget that will neither support infrastructural development of the region nor alleviate the sufferings of the people of the region. From its content and allocations it qualifies as testament to GbaramatuVoice long held belief that the Federal Government is lacking in sincere desire to holistically develop the region.
Let’s look at the particulars of the newspaper’s concerns.
Before allocating N876 billion for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Federal Government should tell the world how much it spent building the second Niger Bridge. Again, before settling for N876 billion as budget for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Federal Government should tell Nigerians how much it spent reconstructing Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
When the amounts spent on these aforementioned projects are placed side-by-side with the N876 billion allocated as budget for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), it will again expose the injustices, inequalities and neglects that are daily meted to the Niger Delta region and its people.
Worsening the situation is the awareness that in the overall budget of the commission, personnel expenditure gulps N34.2 billion, overhead expenditure will gulp N17 billion, internal capital expenditure takes N3.7 billion, while development projects will gulp N490 billion and Federal Government intervention in the Niger Delta, N330 billion.
The breakdown is as follows: N451 million was set-aside for aides of 12 board members of the commission. Aside the N451 million, N576 million was earmarked for running of office of the Chairman of the commission, Laurreta Onochie. The breakdown of this amount indicated that personnel cost would gulp N156 million, overhead, N312 million and internal capital, N108 million.
For the Managing Director’s Office, N546.60 million was approved for personnel cost, N747.50 million for overhead, and N163.50 million for internal capital. Others are Executive Director, Finance & Administration Office, whose personnel cost was put at N133.34 million, overhead, N457.47 million and N163.50 million for internal capital.
On its part, the Corporate Affairs Department of the commission also got N1.061 billion, out of which N431.08 million is for personnel cost, N845.57 million for overhead and N63.09 million for internal audit.
If the above staggering sum of money for frivolities is removed from the budget, it will again elicit the question as to how much will be left for human capital development of Niger Deltans and infrastructural provisions for the region?
The revenue sources to finance the budget are revenue brought forward, N5 billion, Federal Government contribution, N119 billion, Federal Government contribution (unpaid areas), N430 billion, oil companies contributions, N297 billion, ecological funds, N20 billion and other internally realised income, N500 million.
Senator Bulus Amos presented approval for the budget in his capacity as Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs.
In his remarks after passage of the budget, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, said the exercise was expedient not to let the people of the region suffer from further delays.
16 out of the 30-member committee signed the report and was approved by the Senate.
While GbaramatuVoice considers the above budget as a palliative that cures the effects of a sickness while leaving its root cause to thrive, the Newspaper insists that the current trend urgently needs to be reversed. The region is the goose that lays the golden eggs and therefore, should not be allowed to suffer.
It is the Newspaper’s view that what the region needs is the budget that will honestly support landmark infrastructural development of the region, and it is not too much of a task for the Federal Government to do.
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