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Senate, Reps committees task Niger Delta ministry on budget implementation

The Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Niger Delta have emphasised the need for effective implementation of budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, for the benefits of the people of the Niger Delta region.

This view was expressed by the Chairmen of the committees on Niger Delta when the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani led the Ministry’s delegation to the National Assembly for the 2018 Budget Defence and presentation of the 2019 Draft Budget in Abuja, on Thursday.

In his remarks, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi noted: “If we discover that you do not deserve the money allocated to you by Mr. President, we will ensure that such money is given to other Ministries or agencies that need it, but if will also discover that the money allocated to you is smaller than what you require, we will source for other areas of raising funds for you.”

One of the mandates of the ministry of Niger Delta is to coordinate the activities of the State Liaison Offices in the nine (9) States of the Niger Delta Region, namely; Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers, and ensure proper administrative management of the State Offices and maintenance of account among other functions.

The ministry also coordinates efforts to tackle the challenges of infrastructural development, environment protection and youth empowerment in the Niger Delta

Senator Nwaoboshi added that the Ministry should ensure timely completion of projects that would benefit the people of the Niger Delta region, while charging it to do away with those projects he tagged, ‘less important.’

He hinted that the discoveries from the committee’s oversight visits to the region would be the major deciding factors for the consideration of the Ministry’s 2019 Appropriation.

Earlier, the Chairman, House Committee on Niger Delta, Honourable Essien Ayi said his Committee was interested in  the completion of on-going capital projects in the Niger Delta region, saying that the committee, in its last oversight visit to various projects of the Ministry in the region witnessed a number of uncompleted projects.

Hon. Ayi also advised that completed housing schemes in the Niger Delta region by the Ministry should be handed over to the beneficiaries to address their housing need.

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, while presenting a draft budget of N41,600,274,568 covering Capital, Overhead and Personnel Appropriation for 2019 before the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Niger Delta, disclosed that about 80 projects- roads, water, electricity, housing, blocks of class room, food and cassava processing plants, health care centres, empowerment programmes, sensitisation on peace and security, medical outreaches, land reclamation and erosion control, among others,  were completed within the 2018 budget year across the nine states of the Niger Delta region.

Pastor Usani said that the implementation of the 2018 Capital Budget was still on-going, adding that more capital projects would still be completed before June, 2019.

He said that the Ministry was guided by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration’s determination to move the country to the Next Level, in preparing the budget. “The core projects earmarked for execution in the fiscal year 2019 are indeed consistent with the programmes spelt out in the Budget guidelines,“ he  reiterated.

The Minister stressed that his Ministry will continue to ensure that quality jobs are delivered to the people and residents of the Niger Delta region by contractors.

Niger Delta development: Minister charges NDDC to do more

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, has charged the new management of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to do more for the development of the Niger Delta region.

The Minister was speaking at the NDDC headquarters in Port-Harcourt, when he paid a working visit recently to the new management team of the Commission. He was accompanied by his Minister of State, Prof. Claudius Daramola, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Aminu Aliyu-Bisalla and other directors of the supervising ministry.

The aim of the NDDC is to establish in the Niger Delta region a strong and progressive society in which no one will have any anxiety about basic means of life and work; where poverty and illiteracy no longer exist and diseases are brought under control; and where their educational facilities provide all the children of the Niger Delta Region with best possible opportunities for the development of their potentials.

NDDC sees to the implementation of their mandate by executing relevant projects in the entire region.
Projects are conceptualized, designed and executed based on extensive consultation with locals, input from interested parties and critical analysis by experts. These projects are awarded based on their ability to give maximum impact to the local region and beyond the constraints of allotted budget. NDDC is therefore seen as a good harvest of concrete achievements as evidenced in the array of projects and programs they have embarked upon.

The NDDC has taken giant strides to facilitate the all-round development of the Niger Delta and its people, the Commission said.

Usani stated that the current NDDC management, being an interim one, was expected to do more for the people of the Niger Delta than a regular board. “We expect every functionary and staff of the commission to appreciate this fact and put up the very best efforts in the performance of their duties,” he said.

The Minister noted that, “Brief as this management may be, we are charging you to put in your best. There is a lot that can be achieved, especially as the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari continues for the next four years.”

He emphasised that the policy of the Buhari administration was that there would be nothing like abandoned projects. “That is why you can see many of the projects started 20-30 years ago, especially infrastructure are still being reviewed and executed,” he said.

He also urged the NDDC management and staff to recognise the important and special place they occupy in the development of Niger Delta and in the bigger economic picture of Nigeria.

The Minister said: “It may be too early to assess the performance of the new management team. But it is essential for us to know that the task for the management is a greater burden than it would have been if it has longer time to stay.”

He said that his ministry would continue to supervise the Commission to ensure that it performs maximally “because the performance of NDDC goes a long way to determine the forms of agitation we get from the different segments of members of Niger Delta society. I will be pleased to have a peaceful environment for the period you will be in charge of affairs in the Commission.”

Earlier in his remarks the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, said that in the absence of the Commission’s board of directors, the minister takes over as the supervising authority, stating: “It is only fair and wise that he comes once in a while to see how we are faring and to see whether we are following laid down procedures.”

According to him, the new management of the commission was working tirelessly to deliver on its mandate within the shortest possible time.

Prof. Brambaifa said that henceforth, payment to contractors would be made promptly without unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks, noting that the Commission had fine-tuned its processes and was now using a more efficient procedure in paying for projects and meeting its financial obligations.

Also speaking, the NDDC Acting Executive Director Finance and Administration, Mr. Chris Amadi, said the Commission was very much aware of the need to fast-track the development of the Niger Delta region and was appropriately taking directives from its supervising ministry.

He said, “We took up payments of contractors who have been owed for years. We made sure that those which fell under 10 million got their payments even in their homes. We are now compiling payments for 20-30million. We have also paid for the water hyacinths and some of the palliatives and interventions which the Commission set out to address the challenges of youth restiveness to ensure peace in the region.”

He said further: “We have paid major contractors to motivate them to go back to site and complete their projects. We have commitments from several of them that projects are on-going and will soon be completed.”

Amadi stated that NDDC had commenced projects inspection, starting with the new headquarters of the commission and would be embarking on major projects’ inspections across the region.

FD, India to partner on training youths in Niger Delta

The Minister for Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA), Usani Uguru has said the Federal Government is ready to partner India on training, youth development and security of investments in the Niger Delta region.

According to Daily Trust, Usani, while receiving the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Abhay Thakur, in Abuja on Tuesday said Nigeria looks forward to further high level engagements with India, especially in politics.

“The Niger Delta is suffering a lot of things, communities in the region are being submerged under the sea due to serious coastal problems,” he added.

Meanwhile while more measures are been provided by the Federal Government, as partnerships are coming in locally and internationally to ensure that the standard of living of the people improves and the region is well cleaned up.

The Minister further stated that in every raining season, not less than 10 to 20 communities are being lost in some States in the Niger Delta region due to flooding.

In the same vein, the Minister of State, Prof Claudius Daramola called on Indian Government to establish Indian Hospitals in Nigeria, saying such will check medical tourism.

Mr. Thakur said there was growth in his country’s collaboration with Nigeria, noting that his country was committed to further collaboration on investments, power, and agriculture and youth empowerment in the Niger Delta region.

He also said his country had a capacity building programme tagged, “Indian Technical and Economic Corporation (ITEC) Programme” under which his country had received several representatives from Niger Delta region of Nigeria,” adding that more youth in Nigeria, especially those from the Niger Delta region could tap from such programme.

It has been estimated that the cleanup of the Niger Delta region, including full restoration of the swamps, creeks, fishing, grounds, and mangroves in Ogoniland, could take up to 25 years. However, the current administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari has continued in its strides to ensure that issues concerning the people of the Niger Delta are attended to through the Ogoni clean-up efforts, which is part of the administration’s Niger Delta New Vision to develop the region.

Niger Deltans are excited due to the continuity of the amnesty programme, also scholarships are given to indigenes to further their education, women and youths are empowered to startup businesses  to improve their standard of living, while provision are being made for good water and health care facilities for the people in the region.