The Senate, on Thursday, demanded better funding for the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, if the current peace being enjoyed in the region is to be sustained.
At the 2022 Budget defence by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Senate Committee On Niger Delta Affairs, Senator James Manager, noted that the budget allocated to the ministry in 2021 and 2022 was too meagre to achieve anything meaningful in the region, advising that anything humanly possible to sustain the current peace being enjoyed in the region 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.”
Similarly, another member of the committee, Senator George Sekibo, questioned why roads, with no economic relevance should be given more attention than the East-west road which carries the economic burden of the nation, saying,” let us 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.”
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.”
He 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.”