March 2, 2024

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Abubakar Momoh, has said that the ministry owes contractors over N50 billion from projects executed, ongoing projects and abandoned projects.

Momoh stated this when he appeared before a Joint Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to defend his 2024 budget and explain how his budget performed in 2023.

According to Momoh, the budget of the ministry is meagre, adding that so many things they are supposed to do are being performed by other agencies.

He said an amnesty programme which deals with disarmament is now carrying out programmes of development and empowerment.

“There are a lot of programmes going on in the Niger Delta which ordinarily should be done by the ministry,” Momoh said.

He stressed that for the 2023 budget performance, the budget estimate was N14.5 billion but that though N11 billion was later approved, only N4.2 billion was released, which, according to him, is too small to even embark on a road project.

“A total of 14.5 billion was the estimate including capital, recurrent and overheads but what came to the ministry was just N4.2 billion out of the N11 billion that was approved. The 2023 budget performance is put at 37 per cent,” Momoh said.

“The N14 billion budget estimate is meagre to meet the requirements of the ministry. How many kilometres of road can N4 billion construct? Momoh asked.

“We have a lot of abandoned projects. We have a lot of completed projects. Those that have been awarded and have not been paid are worth over N50 billion,” Momoh said, adding that they are money to be paid on projects they are awarded.

“Since I took over, I’ve gotten over 2000 requests from people asking for training in the Niger Delta. If I have the required resources, be assured that I will do a lot,” Momoh said.

He said he is not aware whether the president is aware of the N50 billion debt in his ministry because, according to him, he has not had the opportunity of discussing the issue with the president but that the ministry of finance is aware of the debt.

The chairman of the Senate committee, Babajide Ipinsagba, said they must do everything to ensure that the people that are being owed are settled since most of them collected loans to do the projects.

Ipinsagba said the problem is the cash plan, adding, “If a contractor completes his job, it is expected that once the Minister approves you should get your money in two weeks.

“But you have to upload the approval and another person will determine if there is money to pay for the job done,” he said.

Also, the House committee chairman, House of Reps Committee Chairman on Niger Delta, Ugonna Ozurigbo, said the minister should look at projects he can complete and commission and not embark on projects that will later be abandoned.

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