The Senate on Monday approved the sum of N453.2 billion as annual budget to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the 2020 fiscal year.
This was just as the upper chamber approved a recommendation by the Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta for an extension of the budget implementation timeline to 31st March, 2021.
The approval followed consideration of a report by the Committee on Niger Delta.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP – Delta North), in his presentation, said out of the total sum approved, N27,389,000,000 is for Personnel Costs; N13,937,244,107 for Overhead Expenditure; N2,793,755,893 for Internal Capital Expenditure; and N409,080,000,000 for Development Projects.
On revenue projection of the Commission, the lawmaker said the Committee adopted N63,506,151,945 as reflected in the Appropriations Act, 2020.
He added that the sum of N100 billion naira reflected as unpaid arrears by the Federal Government was not considered as part of the Commission’s revenue projection by the Committee because the amount was not approved in the 2020 Appropriations Act by the National Assembly.
Nwaoboshi stated further that against the backdrop of projection by the NDDC on revenue inflow from oil companies/NLNG and others, the Committee adopted the submission of the Commission on Personnel Expenditure of N27,389,000,000; N13,937,244,107 as Overhead Expenditure; N2,793,755,893 Internal Capital; and N409,080,000,000 for Development Projects.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks charged the Niger Delta Committee to ensure the proper utilization of funds by the Commission through strict oversight.
“I want to emphasize here that our Committee on Niger Delta should sit-up and ensure that these funds are properly utilized.
“The Committee has done a good job in the past, and I’m sure it will continue with that,” the Senate President said.
In his contribution, Senator Seriake Dickson (PDP – Bayelsa West) sought the permission of the Senate President for a motion to be considered to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately constitute the board of the NDDC.
“What I am rising to propose, Mr. President, that this Senate at this point, having now agreed to pass the budget, can we take a motion to the effect that the President be called upon to constitute the board in accordance with the Act without further delay; and that this budget be passed for the sake and development of the well-being and welfare of the people,” he said.
Responding, Senator Lawan noted that the concerns raised by the lawmaker in his suggestion were as valid and potent as a motion considered on the floor, adding that the National Assembly would continue to engage the Executive on the need to immediately constitute the Governing Board of the Nigerian Delta Development Commission.
“I think you have made the point. Even without a motion, you have stated this and it is recorded. And, I have stated this, too.
“We have been engaging with the Executive arm of government that the nominations into the Governing Board should be made. We have been making that point and will continue to push until it is made.
“I think we are getting there, so even if we don’t take any motion, I’m sure the explanations you have given will go a long way.
“I don’t think the Sole Administrator should be there for any long period of time, but it is for us to ensure that between now and when that administrator goes, the funds appropriated are properly utilized.”