The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has raised alarm over inadequate funding and poor allocation to the ministry, which he said, may slow down envisaged speedy development of Niger Delta region.
The minister said that low allocations for the ministry were responsible for series of uncompleted projects in the region, over the years.
He said the total sum of N26, 592,560, 900, 400 proposed for the Ministry of Niger Delta for 2021 was grossly inadequate for projects meant for the region.
Akpabio, in his presentation before the Senate Committee on Niger Delta during the ministry’s 2021 budget defence at the National Assembly, called on the committee to look into the allocations of the ministry in line with its responsibilities in the Niger Delta.
Analysing the budget, he said: “The capital estimate reveals that the sum of N15,000,000,000, out of N19,533,720,033 for capital infrastructure project was allocated to the East-West Road (Sections I- IV) alone, on the order of Mr. President. This leaves N4,533,720,033 for the other infrastructural projects”.
Akpabio further lamented that gross inadequate funding has led to derailment of the programmes of engagement of youths and women of the region, reduced training for knowledge acquisition, poor performance and protracted delay in project delivery and intermittent disruption by youths who chase away contractors from sites.
It would be recalled that the ministry got a budgetary proposal of N26,592,560,040, comprising of N1,443,111,339 for personnel, N877,089,120 for overhead, and N24,272,359,581 for capital.
On the 2020 budget performance, the minister said, “A total sum of N23.45billion was approved as 2020 appropriation after the national budget was amended due to the effect of Covid -19 pandemic.
“The capital, overheads and personnel expenditure budget were in the sum of N21.71billion, N600.1million and N1.14billion, respectively. The releases in respect of capital, overheads and personnel expenditure were N10.86billion, N432.64million and N1.026billion, representing 50%, 72% and 99%, respectively”, he added.
According to the minister, funds for the 2020 budget released for the ministry are 10%, 86% and 99% for capital, overheads and personnel expenditure, respectively.
Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Okowa Signs 2021 Budget Of N383bn
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Monday in Asaba assented to the state’s 2021 Appropriation Bill of N383 billion.
The bill tagged “Budget of Economic Recovery” is made up of N210 billion capital expenditure and N173 billion recurrent expenditure
The Delta House of Assembly increased the budget figure of N378.48 proposed by the governor to N383 billion.
Signing the budget, Okowa assured the people that the state would strive to recover from the economic challenges engendered by Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The governor commended the state house of assembly for the speedy passage of the bill.
He said that signing the budget before December would avail the state government the opportunity to further plan towards its implementation from January, 2021.
According to him, the state government would remain focused on the implementation of the budget as passed, for the benefit of the people.
The governor noted that there was a warm working relationship between the executive and the legislature in the state.
“You have just witnessed my signing into law, the 2021 Appropriation Bill, and as I said on Oct. 27, during the presentation of the bill, we are in very difficult times this year.
“The second wave of the pandemic will create a further challenge for the recovery of the economy of our nation.
“However, we are optimistic that in the 2021 fiscal year, things will gradually improve and we will be able to get back to the desired levels of infrastructural and human capital development for our people.”I pray that God will help us and this nation to rediscover ourselves and to commit every work of our people and our state and nation for the common good of all our citizens.
The budget is termed ‘budget of economic recovery’ because we are very much aware of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on both our health systems and the economy of the country.
“The pandemic obviously impacted negatively on our budget in 2020 that we had to reduce it twice in the year.
“I want to appreciate our contractors who have continued to stay in their various sites to work even when it is becoming increasingly difficult to make payments on contractual agreements already made.
“We will continue to be very responsible as a state, and we will continue to work with them to deliver on our projects,” he said.
Gunmen Attack Delta Monarch’s Wife
There was pandemonium on Monday in the Ughelli area of Delta State as gunmen numbering five laid siege to the palace of Ughelli Kingdom.
The Queen of the Kingdom, Queen Rachael, narrowly escaped after the gunmen ambushed her in front of the palace along Isoko Road in Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state.
An orderly attached to the palace, Inspector Bello Chinye, also narrowly escaped the incident but sustained a gunshot wound.
It was gathered that the monarch’s wife and her driver had gone to a new generation bank along the Isoko Road and were returning to the palace when they were accosted by the gunmen.
A source said, “The gunmen upon sighting the policeman, opened fire on him and shot him on the hand. It was during the melee that ensued that the queen also ran into the palace for safety while the hoodlums also fled the scene.”
The remains of the deceased has since been evacuated and deposited in the morgue by the Police.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Oneme Onowakpoyeya, who confirmed the incident on Tuesday, said it was an incident of attempted robbery and not kidnapping.
“We were told it was attempted robbery not kidnap. However, irrespective of their intentions, they didn’t succeed,” Onowakpoyeya said.
Meanwhile, there was tension in Ovwian Community in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State as gunmen shot a yet-to-be identified man dead in front of Free-Nice Hotel, adjacent Izomo Junction.
Details as to why he was killed were still sketchy at the time of this report.
Residents of the area scampered for safety when the gunmen struck.
When contacted for comments, the Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Onome Onovwakpoyeya confirmed the report in a telephone chat with Warri yesterday.
The Police Image maker said, “It’s true. He was shot in the stomach.”
Delta LG Polls Hold, March 6
The Delta State Independent Electoral Commission has fixed March 6, 2021 as date for the conduct of elections into chairmanship and councilorship positions in the state.
The Chairman of the Commission, Michael Ogbodu, made the announcement after meeting with stakeholders and party chairmen yesterday in Asaba, the state capital.
He said, “The Commission is set to organise credible local government elections in 2021. We will further use this platform to urge our esteemed stakeholders including the various registered political parties in the state and electorates to give us the much needed support as we embark on the journey of delivering free and fair election.”
Ogbodu disclosed that additional 34 wards were created to add to the existing 466 wards across the 25 local government areas in the state.
The commission’s chairman approved that pre-election activities such as campaigns commence immediately.
Also speaking at the meeting, the Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, Emeka Bidokwu, appreciated the commission and sought more cooperation to ensure the election is violence-free and successful.
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