The Niger Delta Development Commission will need at least N1.4 trillion for it to complete all on-going projects in the region. The commission's managing director, Christian Oboh disclosed this in an exclusive interview with THISDAY on Tuesday.
This came on the heels of another disclosure yesterday that the Presidential Amnesty Programme initiated by late President, Alhaji Umar Yar 'Adua saved the oil and gas industry in Nigeria N6 trillion in 2011.
Said the NDDC boss, "If you take a tour of the Niger Delta area, you will see a whole lot of projects going on. Now, we can say that so much has been given but for us to complete all these projects, we will need more than N1.4 trillion. That is a lot of money and I can tell you that if all the projects are completed we will have a Niger Delta region that people can be proud of.
"All we require is consistent funding from government. On our part, we have tried to improve our level of transparency. If all the money that is given to us is used to complete these projects, I am sure we will move a little further away from where we are.
On allegations that NDDC contractors are being owed billions of naira, Oboh said, "I can tell you that initially, contractors were not being paid. Now, contractors are being paid and we have life in nearly all the sites in the Niger Delta. We have activities going on. Of course, when the members of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC visited, they had no opportunity of going round to all our projects because of the floods.
"But the Senate Committee visited our projects and they saw a whole lot of activities. So, we can tell you that the funds are not enough to confront the challenges in the region. But we want to show that what is given to us, we are able to utilise efficiently and effectively and then we can make more demands to say that we need more funding from government."
Oboh also denied insinuations that the commission was not getting all its dues from the federal government. "I can tell you that what is due to the NDDC since I joined this new team has been released up to the third quarter. I don't have the figure to actually ascertain if that is the 15 per cent of what the law says but what is due to us quarterly has been released to us.
"The law is clear on what is due to NDDC. I think what is lacking is the implementation. We have written a letter to the Accountant General of the Federation to let us know what is due to us because we have just noticed that in 2012, what is due to the NDDC was lower than what we got in 2011. Well, of course, there have been challenges; the economy has been up and down. We have written to the government and we are expecting a reply from them."
In a related development, the Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku disclosed that the Amnesty Programme which heralded peace into the once volatile Niger Delta region saved the oil and gas industry in Nigeria N6 trillion in 2011.
Kuku who made the disclosure at a budget defence session with the House Committee on Niger Delta said Nigeria is currently producing between 2.4 and 2.6 million barrels of crude oil per day "as against the abysmally low of between 700,000 and 800,000 barrels per day at the peak of the Niger Delta crisis in January 2009."
The Amnesty Programme, he said, has also resulted in the protection of strategic oil and gas installations that dot the creeks and shores of the Niger Delta.
Kuku said that these strategic installations have now become relatively safer and nation's economy better.