The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) budget of ₦346.4 billion. The budget will run only until May 31, this year.
The chairman of Senate Committee on NDDC, Olubunmi Ojo, who laid the budget details before the House, said ₦22.3 billion is for personnel expenditure and ₦13.5 billion for overhead expenditure.
He said ₦4.1 billion is for internal capital expenditure, while development projects take the largest chunk with ₦306.5 billion.
NDDC budget falls under statutory transfers, meaning its budget is expected to be released in full.
However, the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, recently told PREMIUM TIMES her ministry had only been able to meet 85 per cent of this obligation due to shortfall in government’s revenue.
But with the 2019 finance bill passed, Ms Ahmed said her ministry hopes to meet a much higher level of budget implementation.
Budget releases aside, the Commission has been heavily criticised for not matching funds released to it with development projects of note.
A series of investigations by this newspaper on the status of projects of the commission show that many are rotting away in states like Imo, Akwa Ibom and Cross River, leaving many residents frustrated.
The abandoned projects, some of which are health centres and schools, began as far back 2006, with some of the contractors saying they were abandoned because “NDDC refused to pay” them.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, had also claimed the agency ‘abandoned’ $70 million in a bank for over a decade. He at another time said some officials had turned the commission to an ‘ATM,’ or a cash cow.