The Federal Government is reportedly owing the Niger Delta Development Commission the sum of N1.8 trillion since its inception 17 years ago.
Head, Media and Public Affairs, Ibitoye Abosede, disclosed this in Uyo at a one-day Media Capacity Building Workshop for members of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom Council.
Abosede lamented that non-remittance of the backlog of statutory allocations had hampered accelerated development in the region.
He said the Federal Government had mandated the Ministries of Niger Delta Affairs, Budget and National Planning to sit with the Board of NDDC with a view to ascertaining exactly how much was owed the commission.
“The Federal Government has set up a committee to ascertain the exact money owed the commission,” he said.
According to him, this is the first time a sitting President would demonstrate this kind of political will towards ensuring sustainable development of the region.
Abosede, represented by a staff of the department, Chijoke Amu-Nnadi, explained that aside the arrears from the commission’s statutory allocations, other associated funds for ecology, oil and gas, among others, had not been remitted.
“These problems of funding and the challenges of the terrain in Niger Delta, which prides itself as the third largest wetland in the world, have hindered development in the region,” he said.
He said several projects worth N200bn were cancelled across all the nine states of the region due to the challenge.
He noted that the present Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to addressing the challenges of funding in the commission.
Abosede said the current NDDC Board led by Nsima Ekere had been doing its best to sustain the tempo of development in the region.
He recalled that due to discontents that translated into armed struggle in the region, the setting up of the NDDC became necessary for sustainable development, economic and socio-political stability of the region.
Also speaking, NDDC Commissioner, Akwa Ibom, Samuel Frank, said the commission was not at war with the Akwa Ibom Government.
He said the commission was focusing on providing infrastructure to alleviate the suffering of the people.
Frank said that NDDC had done well in the state by rehabilitating roads in rural and urban centres.
He solicited cooperation of the media to foster development in the region.