By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Friction and anger characterised the budget defence meeting of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) at the House of Representatives on Tuesday as the committee members openly expressed their disgust at the citing of most of the agency’s projects in the constituency of the Chairman, Hon. Nicholas Mutu.
Efforts by the NDDC’s Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, to assuage the lawmakers’ feelings with explanations that the projects were inherited from the last administration failed as they insisted that the N260 billion budget would not be passed until there is equitable distribution of the projects.
Mutu, representing Bomadi/Patani Constituency in Delta State was Chairman of the committee during the seventh assembly.
Hon. Solomon Awhinawhi ( Delta PDP) accused Mutu of influencing the citing of most projects in his constituency to the detriment of other constituencies.
“We cannot pass this budget. I hope we are not saying that the budget will pass today? It is full of fraud. The Chairman has up to 90 per cent of the projects; the Minority Leader (Hon. Leo Ogor) too has his own share of many projects,” he said.
“Ughelli-South/North produces the largest gas resources in the whole of Africa if not the entire world. There is no single project in this budget for them. Let me tell you, this neglect of Ughelli was why Niger Delta Avengers emerged. We are not passing the budget today because we have to represent all the communities in the Niger Delta adequately,” the lawmaker added angrily.
Hon. Akinjo Victor (Ondo PDP) also protested that his constituency, Ilaje, was excluded from benefiting from the N71 billion proposed for regional projects, despite duplication of several projects in the Niger Delta region.