NDDC eyes completion of legacy projects

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Monday defended N1.911trillion as its 2024 Budget before the Senate Committee on the NDDC.

According to a statement signed by its Director of Corporate Affairs, Pius Ughakpoteni, on Monday, the NDDC Managing Director, Dr Samuel Ogbuku, while presenting the budget to the Senate Committee, chaired by Senator Asuquo Ekpeyong, said the proposal was the product of a participatory process involving major stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.

Ogbuku stated, “In preparing the 2024 budget, our primary objective has been to sustain our robust foundation for sustainable economic development. A critical focus of this budget is the present management’s commitment to a greener future. An aggregate expenditure of N1.91tn is proposed for the Niger Delta Development Commission in 2024.

“The main emphasis will be the completion of as many ongoing legacy projects that have advanced greatly. We expect that by the end of the 2024 fiscal year, we will have completed more than 200km of roads across the Niger Delta region.”

According to Ogbuku, the revenue estimates include an opening balance of N12bn, unpaid arrears and recoveries from Federal Government agencies of N170bn.

N1tn is expected to be sourced from development/commercial banks and Federal Government statutory transfers of N324bn. Expected N25bn from the ecological fund. Expected revenue of N375bn from the oil & gas companies, N5bn is expected from other sources (grants, bank interests and sales of boarded items).

Investing in critical infrastructure is a key component of our fiscal strategy under the 2024 budget proposals. The present management has noted that the commission alone would not be able to effectively address the development challenges in the Niger Delta region and is re-navigating its process of intervention by adopting the public-private partnership model as a vehicle to drive sustainable development in the Niger Delta region.

Emphasising public-private partnerships, we have strategically made provisions to leverage private capital for big-ticket infrastructure projects in regional roads to enhance transportation and other sectors. This marks a critical step towards diversifying our source of funding as we intend to source an aggregate sum of N1tn to fund ongoing legacy projects of the commission in 2024. The sum is to be outsourced from the development/commercial banks, etc.,” he explained.

Ogbuku commended the 10th National Assembly’s commitment to stop the cycle of delayed annual budgets.

“I am confident that with our renewed partnership, the deliberations on the 2024 budget shall be completed soon to pave the way for the 2025 budget as this present management is poised to normalise the NDDC budget calendar,” he said.

Ogbuku told lawmakers that the commission had initiated the Holistic Opportunities for Programme and Engagement, Project HOPE, to properly train and empower the youths and artisans of the Niger Delta region.

In the area of infrastructure, we came up with “Operation Light Up Niger Delta Region”; this has seen a reasonable number of the communities being lit up using solar-powered street lights, which have boosted the economic activities of communities at night.

In the area of healthcare, NDDC, through the free medical mission, has provided health solutions to over two million Niger Deltans across communities in the region and remains committed to working with relevant stakeholders to improve health and all other critical sectors that impact positively on the overall development of the health and wellness of the people of the region,” he added.

Ogbuku revealed that the commission had awarded foreign scholarships to 750 individuals between 2023 and 2024 and provided educational grants to 84 individuals.

Additionally, we are distributing 45,000 Ulesson tablets preloaded with Nigerian and WAEC syllabuses to schools in the nine states in the Niger Delta region,” he stated.

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